Longevity "Secret" of Modern Day Hunter-Gatherers

It's the start of another New Year. Gyms across the country are filled with "new joiners" hitting the treadmills, weights and fitness classes to lose weight and upgrade their health. Unfortunately, after a few months most people lost interest and motivation. The research shows that only one out of 10 people who lose weight will keep it off by the end of the year. This begs the question, why can't people stick to their routines, is it simply a matter of poor will power? Not likely.

As usual, looking back to our ancestral past helps to shine a light on the problem.

A new study published in the American Journal of Human Biology investigated the effects of activity (i.e. walking) on key health parameters in modern-day Hadza hunter-gatherers from northern Tanzania, Africa.(1)  Researchers attached heart rate monitors on 46 adult Hadza male and females tribes people and used GPS devices to assess how much and how vigorously they moved in their daily life.

Like most all hunter-gatherer tribes, the Hadza are naturally very lean and have impeccable cardiovascular health; great blood pressure readings, blood lipid levels and absolutely no evidence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

So, what exactly keeps the Hadza so fit and healthy? Here is what the researchers found and believe to be one of the key "secrets" to their success.

Longevity Secret - They Move Often & Everyday

For the Hadza, everyday starts when the sun rises, when the Hadza men set out with their bows to hunt and the women congregate in groups to pick berries (at swift speed) and dig into the ground to pick tuberous veggies. In fact, the study found the Hadza are moving over 2 hours a day at moderate to higher intensities. 

This is a massive contrast to the general recommendations in Western countries for people to exercise for 30 minutes, five times per week. Frighteningly, only 10% of people actually achieve this level.(2) In short, the Hadza move more in one day that most people do in a week!  Also, as the Hadza age they still must keep up with the younger members of the tribe, which translates into very fit and healthy 65 year olds (think of them as super seniors!).

The good news is, as humans, we're still technically "hunter-gatherers". (It's just Starbucks and jerky, instead of game meat and tubers). To reap the anti-aging and longevity benefits, add more walking into your life. Here are some of my favourite tips for clients;

  • Start your day with a 10-minute walk to your local coffee shop, then walk home (20-minutes total).

  • Walk to work rather than taking the bus or subway

  • Park further away from the train or at the mall to add more steps to your day

  • Take 10-15 minute walking breaks at work, or schedule "walking meetings"

  • Use the stairs (instead of escalator)

The fundamental principle is to move more, and sit less. Your body is hard-wired to be moving much of the day, which has trickle down effects for supporting healthy blood sugars, blood pressure, digestive function, hormone balance, low-back health, the list goes on and on. Add this simple "Longevity Secret" to your daily routine, at least 5-6 days of the week, and you'll soon discover improved energy, a trimmer waistline and increased vitality.

Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS


ps. Looking to kick-start your weight loss or upgrade your health? Check out my FREE 50-page E-BOOK - The 14-Day KickStart Program - a diet, movement and lifestyle plan to get your weight and health back on track.