The Four S’s of Fitness: an evolutionary outlook on exercising

Generally, there are three things you can do in order to promote physical health: good nutrition, sufficient relaxation/sleep and proper exercise. Now you may wonder: what is proper exercise then? This brief article adresses this question. I hope it will inspire you to find ways to get the exercise you need.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were very diverse in their activities; they ran, threw speers, shot arrows, climbed in trees, carried heavy loads around, swam across rivers, etc. To them, it wasn’t just a matter of sporting for fun. Their very survival depended on it. So in the course of evolution, humans got very versatile in their body movements (more versatile than any other creature in the world). That’s why I believe that a diverse exercise program is essential for a good physical condition.

But our present day (mostly sedentary) lifestyle is very different from the way our distant ancestors lived. So how can we make sure that our physical activity patterns are just as diverse as theirs?

In his book “Everyday Enlightenment: The Twelve Gateways to Personal Growth”, author Dan Milman might give us a clue as to how to set up a diverse exercise program. In it, he writes about what he refers to as “the Four S’s of psycho-physical talent”. These Four S’s include:

  1. Strength
  2. Suppleness
  3. Stamina (endurance)
  4. Sensitivity (coordination, balance, rhythm, timing, reflex, speed)

A balanced exercise program covers all these four S’s.

Eastern martial arts adress them all four, especially the harder styles. Yoga does that too (when practised vigorously). Salsa dancing is mostly about stamina and sensitivity. Juggling promotes sensitivity and (in a lesser degree) stamina. These are just a few examples. There are countless physical activities to choose from. Maybe you like tennis far better than dancing. In that case, you better choose tennis. It’s important that you enjoy the activity, because only then you’re most likely to stick with it.

Besides deliberate exercise, a lot of day-to-day activities can also be beneficial to your physical condition. Taking your bicycle when going to work promotes stamina. So does taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Household chores and working in the garden both count as a total workout.

Now and then I hear people saying that they quited yoga or a sport because it doesn’t fit in their current lifestyle anymore. As a result they have far too little exercise, and on top of that, they feel bad about themselves. If you’re in that situation, explore your possibilities with the Four S’s in mind. See where the four S’s can fit in your busy schedule. Remember, you don’t need to become an athlete with bulking muscles (if you don’t want to), but you do need some exercise to stay healthy.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email