So, some of you may be wondering just why it is that Bunnies are always so darn happy and relaxed all the time. And it is true, Bunnies are generally very happy and relaxed indeed. In fact, Bunnies can be so hoppy, joyous and free that sometimes even we don’t know what to do with ourselves!
So this then got us thinking, what is it about Bunnies that Humans are missing these days? And we thought, you know what, we bet it has something to do with being outside and hopping around. And that’s how we came to the conclusion that Humans just don’t hop enough! Not only that, but they also hardly ever go outside for the sake of being outside!
You see, to a Bunny, it would seem that Humans spend a great deal of their time sitting around in the air conditioning doing stuff like typing on computers and watching tv… And I guess we get that. But what about the sunshine and the fresh air? What about the cool breezes and the butterflies? What about the waterfalls and the wilderness? And this is how we came to decide that a blog post On Parenting, Humaning, Exercise, and Going Outside is long over due!
On Parenting, Humaning and Going and Exercising Outside
The Natural Environment
You see, the natural environment, just like the Human body itself, is made up of a certain limited and fixed number of elements. As a result, the continually occurring regeneration of the very cells in a Human and a Bunny body comes directly from the cycling of these elements vis a vis air, water and minerals between that body and the natural environment.
It is through this exchange of air, water and minerals in combination with the energy from the sun delivered in the form of light, that a body maintains itself. Everything you use for sustenance, every component of your naturally occurring ecosystem is depended on light from the sun. You too derive energy and wellbeing from the sun.
Ergo, you, in essence, are the Earth. And this, my friend, is something you should not loose sight of.
Not only that but Humans are and always have been dependent upon the natural environment for their survival. You are deeply and profoundly connected to nature. Hence, being out doors is restorative because it connects you directly to that source.
And so, it makes sense to a Bunny that this relationship between you and nature be something quite special. You are of the earth and you return to the earth over and over again throughout your lifetime, every 7 years to be precise for a Human. Your cells and your spirit are continually renewed through this process. So get outside and embrace it!
Now, it would also seem to a Bunny that your Human physicians and philosophers have been stressing the importance of both physical activity and spending time in natural outdoor environments for quite some time. You see, they understand that the outdoors provides many health benefits, for both the body and the mind. Playing in nature improves mood, helps decrease stress levels, and even stimulates faster healing within the body.
In fact, it is fairly safe for a Bunny to presume that Humans (like most mammals) are hard-wired to benefit from being active outdoors. There are many reasons for this of course. But here we would like to speculate on the role of evolution in our coming to this conclusion.
Evolution and the Need to Resist a Sedentary, Indoor, for Lifestyle
You see, when Bunnies think of Humans, we see them as animals just as we see everyBunny else in nature. Thus, when we think about why regular aerobic exercise, daylight and fresh air are good for the Human body and brain, we think, “Well of course it is. It’s good for all animals.”
As a matter of fact, most (read All) animals must go outside and exercise in order to find food and water, in order to sustain life. They always have. And thus, of course Human bodies need to be outside moving around as well. They have been doing that for the past 6-7 million years since they split with the apes. Why would they suddenly not?
And as to why Humans might feel better after exercising, particularly outside? Well, for one, because it causes their brains to work in ways that are incredibly familiar and thus comforting. It stresses their brains in the ways of their ancestors, hundreds of thousands of generations of ancestors.
Not only that, but it has also been clinically proven that sunlight triggers the synthesis of vitamin D in the body. At the same time, sunlight plays a role in the levels of sleep hormone, melatonin, in the body. Seasonal depressive disorder is to correlate with not enough sunlight. In fact, sunlight may even play a role in lowering the risk of heart disease.
The Hunter Gatherer and Outdoor Activity
Now, speaking of your ancestors, hunter gatherer groups spent their entire lives outdoors migrating from place to place with the seasons. They were quite clear on their relationship to the natural environment and it’s role in their survival. They were also clear on their own physical fitness and it’s role in their survival.
For the hunters, the hunt involved chasing prey for long distances in order to tire them out and set up the kill. Thus, the Human needed to be able to run continuously for hours if not days. This obviously requires a great deal of strength and endurance, without which the species would have been in peril. Mind you, this went on for millions of years.
The kill, however, requires more than endurance; it takes strategy as well. It takes planning, thought and communication without which, all is for naught. The hunters must multitask, think on their feet, communicate, monitor the prey as they pursue it over long distances. Their brains are engaged in not only a physical pursuit but also an intellectual pursuit requiring focus and determination if the species is to survive.
The same holds true for the gatherers. Foraging is also a multi-disciplined physical task requiring the engagement of both the brain and the body. One must determine what is edible and the most effective way to procure it. One must gather pounds of fruit or berries or nuts quite possibly with an infant strapped to the back. One must carry vats of water from the source to the fire.
Thus, you can see that clearly your Human ancestors had to use their bodies and brains consistently over time to forage and hunt, to migrate and find water using attention, stamina, muscle strength, endurance as well as intellegence. This is how the species evolved into the phenomenal species it is today, a physical species.
A Bunny might also point out that these are active stresses as opposed to passive stresses. These are stresses that are resolved in the process of moving and using the body, a thinking while doing if you will. Moreover, this type of activity can be considered restorative for a modern Human as it has millions of years of ancestral muscle memory of aerobic physical activity.
We already know that too much sitting is bad for your body. We also already know that you loose strength, you tire more easily and your muscles atrophy when you are not actively using your body. With the advent of agriculture and industry in general and the automobile in particular, Humans are becoming less strong and less fit than your ancestors. You are heavier, many of you obese, because your are not using your body for what it was designed to do. (And you are not consuming foods in forms even close to their natural state, but that is another story.)
Your bodies are communicating this to you in the most clear and uncertain terms.
Interestingly, Bunnies have come to suppose that perhaps the brain is effected adversely in this sedentary system as well. Perhaps the brain atrophies and/or becomes lethargic if the body is not engaged in physical exercise. And, on the other paw, perhaps the brain also builds gray matter and improves function with exercise just as the muscles and other systems of the body do. We are Bunnies, so we don’t really know. But it does seem plawsible, a hopothesis if you will.
Now, we have already said that physical activity and sunshine are restorative to the brain. Again, to a bunny, it seems obvious when you consider blood flow and circulation, the delivering of life to the cells, the exchange of oxygen with the environment. In fact, all of the organs and systems of the Human body respond favorably when engaged in activity. It is how you sustained yourself for millions years.
Inspiration and Insight
Human and Bunny thinkers alike throughout time have long understood this very special relationship between the body, the brain and the natural environment. Human thinkers like Henry David Thoreau and Jean-Jacques Rousseau advocated strongly for the outdoors as both a learning environment and a place of rejuvenation and inspiration.
The Easter Bunny leaves eggs outside for Easter Egg Hunts to encourage Humans to go outside and look around, play and frolic in the joy and splendor of Spring!
Why, even Albert Einstein advocated for the benefits of walking outdoors. During his time at Princeton, he would regularly walk to and from the University and he was well known for his long walks around campus when pondering a complex idea for he understood that the movement brought clarity of thought and insight.
Your Beethoven of the Ludwig van variety would consistently use long, solitary walks through the forests of Vienna in the processing of his ideas. In fact, he was known specifically for taking vigorous walks after lunch with a pencil and paper in hand, prepared to write down the spontaneous solutions he knew would inevitably come during exercise.
Nearly everyBunny has experienced unexpectedly finding the solution to a problem they have been grappling with while walking. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the rhythm of walking can lead to a meditative state as one foot goes in front of the other, the arms swinging back and forth, the rhythm of the breath increases.
Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that as the human brain is constantly looking for meaning and connections, physical activity stimulates both peripheral and focused attention simultaneously while engaging the entire body in the manner through which you evolved.
Education and the Natural Environment
Within the Bunny Educational system, great attention is focused on the basic concept that the natural environment is integral to our existence. Familiarity with the earth itself is critical as bunnies are quite aware of the fact our livelihood is profoundly dependent upon the health of the planet and that which we derive from it.
Using the outdoors as a learning center or classroom is useful in countless ways. Not only does it build respect for the natural environment, it also helps with interpersonal relationships through the awareness of the interrelatedness among bunnies from differing backgrounds by virtue of the common environment. It brings us back to the oneness of things, the cycling of air, water and minerals between the body and the planet.
We have already discussed the evolutionary connections between activity and thought and that activity engages the body both mentally and physically. Thus, active learning is comprehensive learning as more areas of the brain are engaged, stimulated and able to make connections. This works well with young children as there brains are constantly searching to make connections. Not only that, but young children are also extremely tactile, exploratory and curious about the world around them.
Before we move on we also feel we would be derelict in our duties if we did not point out that your children sit in desks for as much as 8 hours a day with steadily shrinking allotted time for recess and play. This does not give there bodies or minds a healthy start and will most certainly lead to a worsening of the obesity epidemic over time. It deprives them of sunlight and the natural need to engage their physical body.
Children move, they jump, they run, they roll in the dirt just as they are meant to do, and their ancestors have done since the beginnings of mankind. It is fairly safe to say that just as hunter gatherer adults engaged their physical body and mind in activity in order to survive, their children spent their lives outside in the natural environment learning through play and exploration.
And so a Bunny comes to the conclusion that it is imperative that Humans begin to develop routines which allow them to participate in cognitively engaging aerobic exercise on a regular basis. It would seem from the evolutionary model we described that, most beneficially, exercise would involve endurance training. But any exercise would be a start!
Now, what our Bunny researchers don’t know is just how much of this exercise you need. However, we are imaging it would be fairly easy to extrapolate from models of behavior of your ancestors in conjunction with analysis of the average amount of exercise engaged in by the remaining hunter gatherer groups. This should allow you to come up with a ideal prescription across age groups. (It would probably also behove you to analyze their diet as well, if only to see how far astray you have gone in terms of processed as opposed to fresh food consumption.)
That said, even physical activity below the level of aerobic exercise is beneficial. One need not be intimidated by lack of physical fitness or athletic prowess. Positive rewards are gained from just going for a stroll. A walk outside leaves one feeling a greater sense of well-being, less anger, and less fatigue, along with the other health benefits already described.
It really doesn’t matter what form of exercise you do – just that you do something. And hopefully in doing it outside, one can nurture the deepening of the bond between oneself and the natural environment.
Speaking of these remaining hunter gatherer groups, we might note, that these few remaining groups are, in fact, quite healthy, which is remarkable as they have been regularly pushed out of the most desirable lands over time. We implore you to continue to study these groups as there is much you can learn from their ancient, enduring ways.
Bunny Scout 278432 has an Advanced Degree in Bunny Behavioral Development with a specialty in The Anatomy and Physiology in Evolutionary Studies. She is a certified Bunny Physical Therapist. She is a scout for Piper in Nebraska and Blogs for BunnyToday.com