The Worlds Biggest Zoo?

I have an thought for you to ponder…

The following concept makes sense to me and I wonder if it does to you. When the comparison clicked in my head, I was momentarily taken aback.

I was talking with a local forager, and we were comparing behavioural problems affecting animals in zoos such as premature death, pacing, tails drooping (think killer whales), depression, sobbing, hair plucking and weight loss to name a few), and the growing behavioural problems faced by people in urban environments.

In the animals case, they have been forcibly removed from their habitats and put into tiny (in comparison) spaces.

In our case, we have removed ourselves from our natural habitat (or built over the top of it) and I would argue that we are encountering similar behavioural problems:

  • In the UK 1 in 3 young people today suffer from a mental health issue. It takes the average person 10 years to seek help for it. Some don’t make it the 10 years.
  • In the UK 6 out of every 10 women are on medication for anxiety, depression or stress. Men are not far behind.
  • The WHO says that by 2020 depression and anxiety will be the worlds number 1 disability.
  • The Centre for Disease Control states that sleep dysfunction is already at an epidemic level.

These are of course multi causal problems, and I certainly don’t mean to oversimplify. I do think that there is a key factor here though.

Animal Pharmaceutical industries now earn billions from prozac, valium and antipsychotics to keep the animals under control.

The comparison immediately made sense to me. Removed from our natural habitat, neither us nor animals do well.

It is tough to swallow when you are living in a built up area, like nearly all of us. However, upping sticks and moving to the country, isn’t the only way to rectify it.

What does this have to do with Systema?

One of the things that immediately resonated with me in Sysetma was the outdoor training. It just made sense. The outdoors is where Martial Arts and indeed health and exercise are meant to be done. I think that when you practice outdoors you engage both with, and in an outdoor environment. It all comes to life. Your skills, health and sense of wellbeing.

Call to action:

My call to action to you would be this. Try to make sure that just once per month, you take a 3 hour walk and spend time in an expansive natural space. This could be forest, fields, whatever.

Japanese research into forest bathing (I have blogged on this before, click here if you haven’t read it, its fascinating) has proved that just one long walk every 30 days, resets our key markers for health:

  • A 12.4% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol,
  • a 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity,
  • a 1.4% decrease in blood pressure and
  • a 5.8% decrease in heart rate.
  • On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.

A lot of bang for your buck there or one walk a month in the countryside.

I hope that it made interesting reading. I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

My very best wishes for your training and good health as always,


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