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Survival of the Fittest: Understanding Health And Peak Physical Performance [Paperback]

Mike Stroud
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 May 1999
Based on medical science, this study sets out the genetics, diet and exercise that allow us to perform at our peak. Stroud employs an anecdotal form, describing individual feats of survival and athletic prowess that illustrate the way the body functions at its best.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (6 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099272598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099272595
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 290,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Mike Stroud, it would seem to most, is a very remarkable man. A qualified doctor, his fascination and involvement in the study of human performance and endurance fitness have obsessed him rather more than the average fitness fanatic. From crossing Antarctica unaided with Sir Ranulph Fiennes, to participating in countless marathons and triathlons traversing deserts and glaciers, Stroud has become his own human guinea pig, testing the limits of human strength and survival in some of the most extreme and inhospitable environments of our planet.

Yet far from simply the journal of one man's extraordinary fitness, Stroud sets out in Survival of the Fittest to tell us that we are all capable of the physical achievements usually left to realm of world class athletes. We are all able to attain such performance levels, Stroud assures us, because we are evolutionary designed to do just this.

At the heart of the book, Stroud claims that human beings have not altered genetically in the last 10,000 years, so physiologically we are identical to our ancestors. The problem is that we now have a markedly different lifestyle to the hunter-gathering times of our Cro-Magnon forefathers-–a lifestyle that simply does not match our evolutionary heritage. This, Stroud believes, is the reason why we are seeing an emergence of modern diseases such as heart disease, obesity and cancer.

Illustrating each chapter with adrenline-inducing accounts of his own expeditions and Adventures--falling through Antarctica ice into minus 40 degree water is just one that springs to mind--Stroud examines the physiological capacities of our bodies to perform and adapt to extreme situations, all the time reminding us that these capabilities are a fundamental part of our evolutionary inheritance.

This is a captivating book, not only a serious comment on the dangers of our modern "civilised" lifestyle, but also a source of remarkable facts on our human design, sure to liven up conversations and office chit- chat (this book certainly gets you talking). Although unlikely to spur you on to organise the next Polar expedition, it will give you the confidence--and quite possibly the inspiration--to become more active and to take up the challenges our genes intend us to do. --Abi Frisby

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Dr. Mike Stroud explores all aspects of human performance from a firm scientific and evolutionary perspective. His book draws on his own education in Medicine and Anthropology and his personal experiences as a medical doctor, a researcher in human performance, polar explorer and an ultra endurance athlete.
He digresses into many areas, (from the physiology of running and explanations for the dominance of black sprinters to the evolution of homo sapiens on the plains of Africa and deep water free divers in Polynesia), and then draws it all back together, to produce a very enjoyable, and ultimately highly educational book.
He explains the necessity of exercise in our lives, and explores the advent of lifestyle diseases in our sedentary lifestyle, from an evolutionary perspective. The overriding message of this book is that the body is built for work, which it does not do in this age of the car, the office and ready made meals, and echoes the sentiments of Hippocrates who, long ago, realised that when the body is not used, it becomes riddled with illness and disease.
This book should serve as an inspiration to us all
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Survival of the fittest 8 May 2003
An excellent book and a pleasure to read. Consists of alternating chapters, firstly relating Mike's personal experience of an event or physical situation, followed by a chapter discussing the physiology and theory behind the story. The human body is an amazing unit. Amazing n terms of what it is capable of and amazing in terms of how little is commonly understood about it's functionality. Mike does a great job in highlighting possiblilites and potentials of it... We know only too little of what we are capable.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awe inspiring read 10 Aug 2000
Within the last year I really decided to improve my fitness and have read many books on the subject. This book definitely stands out.
This guy knows what he's talking about and furthermore has done more exercise than the average member of the SAS. Despite this he is clearly modest about his own achievements and makes you feel (and proves it) that your body is capable of doing a lot more than you think. He argues his points very well and leaves you feeling that you need to get out more (which can only be a good thing).
If your serious about getting fit or just want to know more about the way the body functions then buy this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well written, inspiring book 21 Feb 2004
Mike Stroud is a Doctor, Arctic Explorer (with Ran Fiennes) and very engaging author. This book charts some incredible feats the body is capable of, from marathons to desert and arctic adventures and leads you through some facinating insites into how the human body adapts and survives.
This was the best factual book I read last year.
By now lots of my friends have their own well thumbed copies too.
Well worth looking at his previous book too - about the Arctic trip "Shadows on the Wasteland: Crossing Antarctica with Ranulph Fiennes"
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An effortless read and completely unputdownable 15 Feb 2002
I decided to read Mike Stroud because I was a great fan of Ranulph Fiennes. I found his book to be very intelligently written but absolutely down to earth. Not only did my knowledge grow in leaps and bounds but I had an amazing and eye opening time reading this stuff. Well done Mike Stroud - please give us some more.
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