Wim Hof, who also holds a Guinness world record for the maximum time swimming under ice hockey, immerses himself in ice hockey during a 2010 event to increase public awareness of global warming. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Most of us know it to be healthy, exercise and we will need to eat well.
But focusing on only those two items may not be enough, according to a theory researched (and experienced) by journalist and anthropologist Scott Carney in his recent book “What Does Not Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, along with Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Power”
This concept implies that along with exercise and diet, our bodies might need environmental stress — such as vulnerability to cold and cold temperatures — if we are to achieve our whole potential. People had no air conditioning or heating to help protect us whatsoever, from intense conditions for the majority of our existence.
The logic behind this idea is similar to explanations for why we will need to eat food and workout. Nature is barbarous, and we’ve evolved to live in a brutal world, but today modern technology protects us from these challenges.
We’re designed to move and run; being obese leads to higher incidences of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes — most of the most frequent causes of death in today’s world.
And our bodies thrive when we eat organic foods very similar to what we would have the ability to grow and find in the wild; they encounter negative impacts once we consume a lot of processed substances. We seek out fat and sugar because of their high caloric content, but those foods have become so available that we are eating in much more ways that are wholesome.
As it is described by Carney, the idea behind conditioning is the same:
“Anatomically modern humans have lived in the world for almost 200,000 years. Meaning your office-mate who sits on a chair behind lighting all day has pretty much the identical human anatomy as the caveman who made spear points from flint. For from there to this countless challenges were faced by humans because we continued despite suffocating heat, breathing, froze in snowstorms, sought refuge from the rain and fled predators. When relaxation could be taken for granted until recently there was never time a — there was a balance between the effort we assessed. For the bulk of that time we handled these feats without a shred of what anyone now would consider modern technology. Instead, we had to be strong to endure.”
Although our newfound capability is pleasurable, Carney thinks it may not be healthful.
“Without a challenge to overcome, frontier to press, or danger to flee from, the people of the century are overstuffed, overheated, and understimulated,” he wrote.
There are a few caveats of course, to this opinion. Contemporary technology helps us avoid freezing to death in winter and allows us to stay productive.
However there are many others who think that a number of our struggles with mental and physical health have to do with all the simplicity of life. Anxiety, for example, is among the most frequent mental-health issues people face today, but a few researchers think that it can be an evolutionary adaptation that has gone out of control. Anxiety may be a part of the “fight or flight” response, which will help keep us living in dangerous conditions, but since we no longer worry predators and other threats, it may kick in if we have to give a speech or ask somebody out.
In his publication, Carney investigates the concept that incorporating some ecological challenges back into our lives could cause health benefits. He embarks on a trip to see whether “ecological conditioning” — directed by Wim Hof, a Dutchman who goes by the nickname “Iceman” — can help him unlock new levels of fitness.
Hof urges (and practices) a process of bodily transformation that unites environmental vulnerability, mostly in the chilly, with mindful breathing methods to attempt and gain more control on naturally involuntary bodily responses. He claims that doing this cannot only strengthen the entire body in a way that go beyond that which exercise can achieve, but also help individuals heal from ailments and accidents.
It’s difficult to know how much to purchase Hof’s concept. One the 1 hand, it is appealing to those people who believe that an life is probably not hard. And it does seem to possess some observed health advantages in which students of this Wim Hof system experience relief from injuries or symptoms of Parkinson’s and Crohn’s disease. Some scientific studies have even independently confirmed a few claims that Hof makes, such as that a technique of cold immersion and mindful breathing may give individuals some ability to proactively trigger or suppress their immune system.
It’s possible that all or some of the symptom and pain relief that Hof’s Trainers have experienced is because of the placebo effect, something Carney acknowledges.
The disclaimer at Carney’s book. Kevin Loria/Business Insider
It’s also worth noting that some of the items Hof has performed (swimming in freezing water, for example) have almost murdered him and have murdered other men and women who tried to replicate his feats. Carney’s book starts with a serious disclaimer that warns readers not to attempt these methods without the acceptance of a doctor and with no serious training and prep. Even after that, it states “readers must bear in mind that these practices are inherently harmful and might result in grave injury or death.”
Danger aside, athletes enjoy legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, who Carney trains with while focusing on his evaluation, mention Hof’s approaches as powerful. And there is promising data that indicates cold exposure may play a part in weight loss and assist counteract the consequences of diabetes.
The idea that it is possible to gain control over seemingly involuntary bodily responses isn’t confined to Hof’s function — people prefer open water swimmer Lewis Pugh along with certain monks also have been proven to exercise some control over their internal body temperature, also a seemingly excellent capacity.
Whether those abilities can be learned and educated is the question. Hof thinks so, although Carney leaves space for disbelief, he seems convinced, also.
“If you have been wrapped up at a thermogenic cocoon to your entire life, then your nervous system is aching for entersignal,” he writes. “All you want to do is get a little bit out of the comfort zone and try something from the normal. Try finding comfort in the cold.”