Exercised by Daniel Lieberman

2020 no.29
Exercised by Daniel Lieberman

I am happy that I have managed to finish this book last night. This book is a good one!

Professor Lieberman is the Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary at Harvard University. In this book, he takes us on a journey to discover why and how we exercise through the lens of evolutionary biology.

“Exercise is a voluntary physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and undertaken to sustain or improve health and fitness.” From an evolutionary perspective, we are evolved to be physically active instead of being sedentary. But physically active does not equal to doing unnecessary “exercise”. Our ancestors were used to walk and work to survive. But modernization allows us to do less and less, and we become physically inactive. All sorts of health problems arise with our inactivity because our lifestyle(environment) does not match our body working mechanisms. For example, some maintenance and repair mechanisms do not activate due to inactivity.

I enjoy Professor Lieberman’s writing style. In a friendly manner, he shows how and why human beings are the way we are nowadays. He gives us an overview of why our body built this way, such as our inactivity, speed, strength, power, and endurance. It is an exciting book backed by a lot of science. I even enjoy reading the notes!

Everyone knows exercise is important and healthy for us. But it is totally normal not to enjoy exercise. Our body is hardwired to conserve our energy for reproduction. Anything not necessary to survival is not preferred. We need to treat exercise as education. We should make it fun, social, and rewarding, so we would want to do it.

There are tons of studies and recommendations from different authorities and experts. But the most commonly advocated recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, supplemented by two sessions of weights.

In this book, Professor Lieberman’s advice can be summarized in:
“Make exercise necessary and fun. Do mostly cardio, but also some weights. Some are better than none. Keep it up as you age.”

I highly recommend this book to people who want to dig deep into why and how we should exercise!

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