• Exercised

  • Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding
  • By: Daniel Lieberman
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 13 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,060 ratings)

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Exercised  By  cover art


By: Daniel Lieberman
Narrated by: Sean Runnette
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Publisher's summary

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.

©2021 Daniel Lieberman (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Lieberman’s inquisitiveness as both a researcher and a fitful fitness adherent allows him a distinct vantage on the subject.... Drawing on his expertise and knowledge of the way evolutionary forces work, [Lieberman] takes ideas that have been spun and spun again, often based on shaky information, and cracks them open.... In addition to exorcising myths and detailing what kinds of exercise we’re good at, as well as why these particular activities matter for our physical well-being, Lieberman also gives us permission to be kind to ourselves if we’d rather not bother.... Most important, Lieberman doesn’t judge those who find exercising difficult, even after knowing that they should be doing it, because exercise still isn’t all that fun." (The New York Times)

"Exercised makes important progress in the research topic for which Mr. Lieberman himself has become best known - the physiology of human favorite passage of the book concerns dancing. Dance in many societies is a physical activity connected to ritual, a highly social activity with deep symbolic meaning to its participants. It reminds us that beauty, joy and rites of passage are central to human life, and that physical activity can be exuberant and ecstatic.... I find Mr. Lieberman’s voice of moderation to be welcome in a world where barefoot running and paleo diets have become fads.... Instead of looking to a mythological view of our evolutionary past, we should be looking around us at a broader array of real humans, all of them moving - happily - through their lives. Getting Exercised is a start." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Riveting.... Highly appealing.... Lieberman begins a process of myth-busting about exercise.... An irresistible aspect of Exercised is Lieberman's firm stance that no shame or stigma be attached to those who find it challenging to sustain an exercise program.... Another exceptionally informative part of the book discusses the damage-and-repair cycle brought on by exercise. Lieberman explains more clearly than I've ever read what exercise does to the body, and how the body then begins to repair itself afterwards.... Lieberman makes a superb guide for anyone wishing to understand why it can be hard to commit to exercising, and why we should do it anyway." (NPR)