Go the dis­tance to at­tract a mate: study

Daily News - - LIFESTYLE -

LONG-DIS­TANCE run­ning may be a lonely pas­time, but aca­demics say men who can run for miles may find it eas­ier to at­tract women.

Peo­ple who were bet­ter at run­ning half marathons were likely to have been ex­posed to high lev­els of testos­terone in the womb, re­searchers from Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity said.

This means they not only have bet­ter car­dio-vas­cu­lar ef­fi­ciency but also a strong sex drive and high sperm count – sug­gest­ing that his­tor­i­cally they were cho­sen by women as more de­sir­able mates.

Lead au­thor Dr Danny Longman, from the uni­ver­sity’s di­vi­sion of bi­o­log­i­cal an­thro­pol­ogy, said: “The ob­ser­va­tion that en­durance run­ning abil­ity is con­nected to re­pro­duc­tive po­ten­tial in men sug­gests women in our hunter-gath­erer past were able to ob­serve run­ning as a sig­nal for a good breed­ing part­ner.”

His team found the best half marathon com­peti­tors tended to also have longer ring fin­gers – a sig­nal that they had seen higher lev­els of hor­mone ex­po­sure in the womb.

They said the find­ing sug­gests fe­males had se­lected mates for ath­letic en­durance, per­haps, be­cause “per­sis­tence hunt­ing” – ex­haust­ing prey by tire­lessly track­ing it – was a vi­tal way to get food.

It means men who could run long dis­tances were more at­trac­tive to women – a trait the re­searchers say has per­sisted through the gen­er­a­tions.

And the same link to testos­terone does not nec­es­sar­ily ap­ply to those who are bet­ter at sprint­ing short dis­tances – be­cause in hunter­gath­erer so­ci­eties, en­durance would have been more use­ful than brute force.

Per­sis­tence hun­ters may also have pos­sessed other qual­i­ties, like in­tel­li­gence and gen­eros­ity, which women looked for in a mate.

Longman said that while train­ing and mus­cle strength were more im­por­tant than hor­mone ex­po­sure in run­ning per­for­mance, the size of the study meant that the find­ings were con­clu­sive ev­i­dence of a pre­dis­po­si­tion.

He added: “Hu­mans are hope­less sprint­ers. Rab­bits, for ex­am­ple, are much faster sprint­ers, de­spite be­ing fat and round. But hu­mans are fan­tas­ti­cally ef­fi­cient longdis­tance run­ners, com­pa­ra­ble to wolves and wild coy­otes.

“Hun­ters will de­lib­er­ately choose the hottest time of day to hunt and chase and track an an­te­lope or gnu (wilde­beest) over 30km to 40km for four or five hours.”

The team, from Cam­bridge Uni­ver­sity and Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don, an­a­lysed 542 run­ners at the 2013 Robin Hood Half Marathon in Not­ting­ham by pho­to­copy­ing hands and tak­ing run times and other key de­tails just af­ter run­ners crossed the line.

They found that the 10 per­cent of men with the most mas­cu­line fin­ger ra­tios were, on av­er­age, 24 min­utes and 33 sec­onds faster than the 10 per­cent of men with the least mas­cu­line dig­its. – Daily Mail

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Ja­cob Boyer lifts his Thor ham­mer while cross­ing the fin­ish line dur­ing the Avengers Su­per He­roes Half Marathon in Cal­i­for­nia.

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