Live Like Your Ancestors - But With Clothes On!

From a health standpoint, it is becoming more widely recognised that our bodies and our minds are designed for the environment of hundreds and thousands of years ago and both expect us to live just like our ancestors did.

We can almost hear you respond - "But didn't they only live until they were 30 years old?  They can’t have been doing too much right".

What many don't realise is that when researchers refer to the ‘average lifespan’ of a population, they actually mean the mathematical average age, not the most likely age that a person would have lived.  So a high infant mortality rate (due to very little medical practices) and essentially no understanding of bacteria and hygiene has drastically skewed the average age of death in those days, and led us to believe that lifespan was much less.

We aren’t trying to replicate ancestral times, but help better understand the conditions in which our biology works best.

When evaluating our evolutionary past, it provides us with an insight into which environment has had the biggest impact on our genetics:

  • Hunter-Gatherers: 85,000 generations
  • Agricultural Revolution: 350 generations
  • Industrial Revolution: 7 generations
  • Digital Age: 2 generations

“Our evolution designed us for a world very different from that which we have constructed for ourselves today. Within a mere instant, in evolutionary terms, we have transformed our environment. But this widening mismatch between our biology and our environment has its costs.  And we cannot evolve our way out of the problem”.
"Mismatch - why our world no longer fits our bodies": Professor Peter Gluckman

Given our passion for enhancing wellbeing and our ambition to help people lead happier, healthier, more engaged lives, we took a good hard look at the research on primal living and developed ‘Go-Primal’ - a workplace health challenge for our clients and their employees.

‘Go Primal’

The ‘Go-Primal’ health challenge is a team-based challenge which runs over a three week period.  The challenge provides participants with the motivation and understanding of our basic physiological needs.  These include:

  • Eating real food
  • Undertaking evolutionary appropriate exercise
  • Attaining adequate sleep
  • Exposing our eyes and skin to bright natural daylight
  • Socialising and finding ways to incorporate unstructured fun into our daily lives

We have designed the challenge to promote these things in a way that can be easily integrated into our modern lives.  Throughout the challenge we encourage participants to better understand our hunter-gatherer lifestyle and how this provides us with an insight into how to improve our overall health and wellbeing - even in today’s high paced, demanding, sugar fuelled, stressful, new age environment.

Examples of daily extracts/activities in 'Go-Primal' include:

  • Slow Food: Modern life is fast-paced. So much so that when we find something to be unexpectedly ‘slow’ it can cause a lot of stress. When traffic is slow, our heart rate speeds up. When the internet crawls along, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow. We want everything now. Even our food has become fast. Typical ‘fast food’, ready-made meals and quick packs of snacks for on-demand eating. It’s time to slow things down and get real with some ‘Slow Food’. Plan to come together with your team or other workmates to enjoy a ‘Slow Food’ shared lunch.
  • Gratitude: Modern life is full of noise. We are fed a constant stream of information which, on a day to day basis, can leave us feeling a bit highly strung and wondering how we manage to juggle so many things at once. Dealing with this constant stream of ‘noise’ can make it very difficult for us to re-direct our attention onto the positive things that truly matter to us. The things we most enjoy and appreciate sometimes fade into the background. Write down 5 things you are grateful for.
  • Unplug: Sure, hunter-gatherers had stressful days too, typically in the form of big teeth and claws, but among their stressors was not a 9.00pm work email about a looming project, a social media comment or hearing of impending doom and gloom on the late-night news. Ancestrally speaking, we knew how to wind down before bed. One of the key things you can do to relax and improve your sleep is to 'unplug'. The world will wait until tomorrow. From 6.00pm onward, refrain from watching TV or using an electronic device.

On completing the daily challenges, participants receive feedback and points based upon their ability to complete the tasks at hand.  Winning teams earn prizes with spot prizes given away throughout the challenge to those who complete each day of the challenge.

 The Results:

  • 90% of participants would recommend others to participate in ‘Go Primal’
  • 98% of participants reported that they feel confident to maintain the changes that they made during ‘Go Primal’
  • 82% of participants are more motivated to make other positive changes in their lifestyle since participating in ‘Go Primal’

Participant Feedback:

“I loved being able to do activities with my workmates and talk about the improvements we have all made”

“It’s been great to realise how small, simple and easy changes can make the biggest difference to how I feel”

“The group walks were a good laugh! We normally just sit around at lunch time”

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