Go the distance to attract a mate: study
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