The sci­ence of at­trac­tion

UK, 2015

Runner's World (UK) - - Coffee Perks -

There is a fas­ci­nat­ing school of sci­en­tific thought that main­tains that how far you run can ac­tu­ally dic­tate how much sex you get. More specif­i­cally, the study con­cerned sug­gests that male long-dis­tance run­ners are more at­trac­tive to the ladies than fel­las who get out of breath af­ter a 200m huff-and-puff to the cor­ner shop. And it’s noth­ing to do with bulging calf mus­cles, toned fore­arms or wash­board abs.

The re­search was car­ried out by re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge and Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, who an­a­lysed 542 male com­peti­tors tak­ing part in the Robin Hood Half Marathon and dis­cov­ered that the bet­ter the runner, the more likely they were to have the op­po­site sex swoon­ing at their feet.

‘Long-dis­tance run­ning may be a lonely pas­time – but aca­demics say men who can run for miles may find it eas­ier to at­tract women,’ re­ported Thedaily Mail. ‘Peo­ple who are bet­ter at run­ning half marathons are likely to have been ex­posed to high lev­els of testos­terone while in the womb, re­searchers from Cam­bridge Univer­sity the­o­rised. This means they not only have bet­ter car­dio­vas­cu­lar ef­fi­ciency but also a strong sex drive and high sperm count, sug­gest­ing that his­tor­i­cally they were cho­sen by women as more de­sir­able mates.

‘This may be be­cause “per­sis­tence hunt­ing” (ex­haust­ing prey by tire­lessly track­ing it) was a vi­tal way to get food. It means that men who could run long dis­tances were more at­trac­tive to women – a trait the re­searchers say has per­sisted through the gen­er­a­tions.’ The boffins dis­cov­ered by pho­to­copy­ing the run­ners’ hand­prints and mea­sur­ing race times and other data that the best half marathon­ers tended to have longer ring fin­gers, which is of­ten a sign that they had been ex­posed to higher than av­er­age lev­els of testos­terone in the womb.

‘The ob­ser­va­tion that en­durance-run­ning abil­ity is con­nected to re­pro­duc­tive po­ten­tial in men sug­gests that women in our hunter-gath­erer past were able to ob­serve run­ning as a sig­nal for a good breed­ing part­ner,’ ex­plained Dr Danny Long­man, the lead re­searcher on the study. ‘It was thought that a bet­ter hunter would have got more meat, and had a health­ier and larger fam­ily as a con­se­quence of pro­vid­ing more meat for his fam­ily.’

In the days be­fore you could or­der a cou­ple of burg­ers or a rack of ribs from Tesco on­line, you didn’t have to sing for your sup­per, but you did have to chase your lunch. Male marathon­ers around the coun­try wel­comed the con­clu­sions of the ground-break­ing study, and added an ex­tra tempo run to their train­ing regimes.

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