Two days ago I tested on the cycle ergometer a 61-year-old recreational cyclist. He performed a progressive test to exhaustion, starting at 100 W, with 25 W increments every 3 minutes, and was able to hold 325 W for 68 seconds, to achieve a peak aerobic power of 309 W (4.41 W/kg). He said he cycled year long, for a total of about 10,000 km per year, or about 192 km per week (about 6-8 hours of cycling per week).

Cariban gatherer and hunter

Cariban gatherer and hunter (from the book “Na'na Kali'na: Une histoire des Kali'na en Guyane”).

I was impressed by his fitness level, and so was our sports cardiologist. He was not overweight, had no hypertension, no insulin resistance, took no medication. Imagine the reduction in the public health budget if everyone around remained as active…

Today I came accross an excellent scientific article by James H. O’Keefe and colleagues entitled “Achieving hunter-gatherer fitness in the 21st century: back to the future”. And I thought I should share some of its contents with the readers of this blog:

“From the inception of the human genus, Homo, approximately 2.4 million years ago, our ancestors lived as huntergatherers for approximately 84,000 generations. Survival within the hunter-gatherer niche required a large amount of daily energy expenditure in activities such as food and water procurement, social interaction, escape from predators, and maintenance of shelter and clothing. This lifestyle represents the exercise patterns for which we remain genetically adapted. Accordingly, humans are superbly capable of performing the wide array of physical actions and behaviors required of the hunter-gatherer. Quantum improvements in technology such as those that spawned the agricultural revolution (350 generations ago), the industrial revolution (7 generations ago), and the digital age (2 generations ago) have engendered large systematic reductions in the amount of physical work required by humans. Nonetheless, our innate exercise capabilities and requirements that evolved via natural selection over thousands of millennia remain essentially the same as for our Stone Age ancestors. Marked deviation from those indigenous exercise patterns predictably results in physical disability and disease. An understanding of the typical hunter-gatherer physical activity pattern would seem to be an ideal template from which to design a modern exercise program.

Ironically, today, as the last vestiges of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle are being eclipsed by modern civilization, science is coming to realize the importance of this way of life for current-day human health, and its relevance to optimal fitness in the 21st century.”


O’Keefe JH, Vogel R, Lavie CJ, Cordain L. Achieving hunter-gatherer fitness in the 21st century: back to the future. Am J Med. 2010 Dec;123(12):1082-6

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