If you’ve watched Man vs. Wild, you must have gasped at what Bear Gryll does in the show. Taking baths in icy rivers, eating giant worms, sleeping unprotected in the wild…
It’s really hard to imagine how life would be if we were placed in such extreme environments, isn’t it? Living in the modern society, we seldom need to confront the elements. When summer comes, we can simply turn on the air-conditioners. In the winter, we can stay in our cozy homes with the protection of heaters.
The counter-intuitive approach to keep us healthy
While we’re counting our blessings, the American journalist and anthropologist Scott Carney puts forward a different view. In his recent book What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environment Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength, Carney suggests that apart from exercise and diet, exposure to environmental stress, like extreme high and low temperatures, is the essential third pillar to keep us healthy.
What doesn’t kills you makes you stronger
Thinking what Carney says is counter-intuitive? Then you haven’t realized the fact that human body needs occasional physical challenges to maintain its optimal state. It is the modern sedentary lifestyle creates the illusion that we can’t endure the harsh conditions shown in Man vs. Wild.
Just as what Carney wrote in his book:
“With no challenge to overcome frontier to press, or threats to flee from, the humans of the millennium are overstuffed, overheated, and under-stimulated.”
Modern sedentary lifestyle is a sugar-coated poison
Actually, the surge of health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and anxiety in this century has proven that the comfortable lifestyle we’re living is not desirable for our bodies. Degeneration comes when we consume too many processed foods and become oversensitive to trivial matters in life.
That’s why Carney advocates bringing environmental challenges back into our lives. He worked with Wim Hof, a Dutchman with the nickname of “Iceman” to conduct an experiment to see whether exposure to extremely cold environment can help bring our fitness to another level and heal us from injuries and diseases.
Although currently there is no concrete scientific evidence showing the effectiveness of Hof’s cold exposure therapy, Carney observed from Hof’s students that withstanding extreme cold weather helps relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Cohn’s disease.
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