If exercise is healthy (so good for you!), why do many people dislike or avoid it? These engaging stories and explanations will revolutionize the way you think about exercising—not to mention sitting, sleeping, sprinting, weight lifting, playing, fighting, walking, jogging, and even dancing.
“Strikes a perfect balance of scholarship, wit, and enthusiasm.” —Bill Bryson, New York Times best-selling author of The Body
• If we are born to walk and run, why do most of us take it easy whenever possible?
• Does running ruin your knees?
• Should we do weights, cardio, or high-intensity training?
• Is sitting really the new smoking?
• Can you lose weight by walking?
• And how do we make sense of the conflicting, anxiety-inducing information about rest, physical activity, and exercise with which we are bombarded?
In this myth-busting book, Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity, tells the story of how we never evolved to exercise—to do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health. Using his own research and experiences throughout the world, Lieberman recounts without jargon how and why humans evolved to walk, run, dig, and do other necessary and rewarding physical activities while avoiding needless exertion.
Exercised is entertaining and enlightening but also constructive. As our increasingly sedentary lifestyles have contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity and diseases such as diabetes, Lieberman audaciously argues that to become more active we need to do more than medicalize and commodify exercise.
Drawing on insights from evolutionary biology and anthropology, Lieberman suggests how we can make exercise more enjoyable, rather than shaming and blaming people for avoiding it. He also tackles the question of whether you can exercise too much, even as he explains why exercise can reduce our vulnerability to the diseases mostly likely to make us sick and kill us.
In this smart volume, Harvard paleoanthropologist Lieberman (The Story of the Human Head) takes a scientifically astute look at exercise. Alongside actionable workout tips, he proffers persuasive reasons for everyone to exercise in some way (his preferred activity is running), notably that "physical activity is probably the single best way to lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease," and that an active lifestyle can help "to prevent or tame... several kinds of cancers." To help win over "habitual non-exercisers," Lieberman has some refreshingly realistic suggestions for "mak the exercise less disagreeable," such as rewarding oneself for completing workouts, or doing them in like-minded groups for moral support. Meanwhile, the recommendations for exercisers in general are helpfully straightforward and unfussy ("exercise several hours a week, mostly cardio but also some weights, and keep it up as you age"). To explore why humans can but don't always build strength, Lieberman traces "two conflicting threads" in Homo sapiens's evolution as early humans became hunters, they "must have benefited from plenty of brawn," but human society's becoming "less reactively aggressive and more cooperative... reduced selection for being big and strong." His illuminating and frequently humorous work will delight fitness mavens and make those pesky workout sessions more rewarding for everyone else.