Health Benefits of Subsistence Living

Story by – YKHC Diabetes Prevention & Control

July 10, 2012 - 1 minute read
YKHC file photo.

It is valuable in the YK Delta to understand that activities of subsistence living are methods of exercise. Fishing, gathering, and other fishcamp duties contribute to health by burning calories, increasing strength, and improving the functioning of the cardiovascular system.

Although high intensity activities burn more calories per unit of time, most people cannot do them for very long. Engaging in lower intensity activities, such as hiking, gathering, net fishing, and transferring water for long periods of time will actually burn more calories than shorter bouts of high intensity activities.

Muscles grow stronger whenever they are consistently required to perform heavy work, such as lifting nets and buckets of water. Furthermore, when activity makes the heart beat faster, there are improvements in the ability to supply nutrition to the body and get rid of harmful toxins. A faster heart rate and heavier breathing are good indicators that the activity is intense enough to actually cause changes in health.

Our ancestors engaged in daily, consistent exercise, but possibly never appreciated its value. While medicine has brought improvements in how long we live, a less active civilization has brought heart disease, diabetes, and other forms of chronic disease. By embracing the subsistence way of living today, we can honor the perfect balance between modern technology and ancestral practices.

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