David A. Raichlen is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona School of Anthropology.
His lab is focused on understanding how humans' unique evolutionary history explains modern human physiological variation and how we can use an evolutionary context to improve health and well-being today. Specifically, we believe a shift towards high levels of physical activity during our transition to hunting and gathering in the past led to a physiological requirement for physical activity to maintain the health of organ systems from our brains, to our cardiovascular system, to our musculoskeletal system. While we explore the links between human evolution, physical activity, and health across the lifespan, we believe this perspective can play a major role in preventing and managing diseases that occur late in life. In the end, a full understanding of our evolutionary history will help explain how and why our current, more sedentary lifestyle impacts our physical and mental health, and how we can use this evolutionary context to improve well-being today.
His research program has three main components:
1) Reconstructing activity levels during human evolution (evolutionary biomechanics)
2) Exploring energetics and physical activity levels in extant taxa, including human hunter-gatherers
3) Linking the evolution of high physical activity levels to physiology, neurobiology, and health in extant humans
Tying together these three components allows us to more fully understand how increased aerobic activity levels affected the trajectory of human evolution.