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Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,938 ratings  ·  279 reviews
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, Ne
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published January 5th 2021 by Pantheon Books
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Tony I've read The Story of the Human Boby and decided to read Exercised because I liked the first one. There is some overlap. I would not say this is a to…moreI've read The Story of the Human Boby and decided to read Exercised because I liked the first one. There is some overlap. I would not say this is a totally different book but I also wouldn't say it's a rehash of the same book. I would probably say that Exercised was not as eye opening because I read the earlier one. I still recommend it though. (less)

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Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
The mantra of this book is that nothing about the biology of exercise makes sense except in the light of evolution, and nothing about exercise as a behaviour makes sense except in the light of anthropology.

This examination of history is by a paleoanthropologist Professor – something of an expert both on the evolution of the human body and the study of hunter gatherer societies, both which an emphasis on how they have led to the evolution and development of human physical activity. He is perh
Ryan Boissonneault
Exercise is one of those topics, along with diet, that generates a lot of confusion. And while there is no shortage of advice to be found online, it is rarely based on our best science or on our understanding of the intricacies of human physiology, evolution, and anthropology.

In Exercised, Harvard professor of evolutionary biology Daniel Lieberman explains that to truly understand exercise science, you must first understand something about human evolution and anthropology and how the body evolv
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If exercise is healthy (so good for you!), why do many people dislike or avoid it? If we are born to walk and run, why do most of us take it easy whenever possible? And how do we make sense of the conflicting, anxiety-inducing information about rest, physical activity, and exercise with which we are bombarded? Is sitting really the new smoking? Can you lose weight by walking? Does running ruin your knees? Should we do weights, cardio, or high-intensity training?  In this myth-busting book, Danie ...more
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health-fitness
Everyone knows they should exercise, but few things are more irritating than being told to exercise, how much, and in what way. Exhorting us to “Just Do It” is about as helpful as telling a drug addict to “Just Say No.”
Daniel Lieberman

Unless you are someone like Donald Trump most people know that exercise is good for you. In this book Daniel Lieberman tries to explain why that is so difficult for so many people. As an Anthropologist he explains that our early forebears had two main goals — to f
TS Chan
ARC received from the publisher, Allen Lane, in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars.

Exercised is a well-balanced and comprehensive book that does not preach but instead presents a wealth of evidence from various researches into the benefits of physical activity, which in our modern lives mean exercise.

The subject of exercise is something close to my heart, and that is why I was interested in reading this book. While I found it to be quite well-written, I might not be its targeted audience a
Apr 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I love a good debunking book that also cuts through the BS and tells you what is and isn't true and what we can and can't know. This book is a nice corrective to wild claims about sitting is the new smoking or myths about our running ancestors and their paleo diets. It just didn't happen like that. Yes, we were more active, but just walking to find food and stuff and also we've always had back pain basically. The tension of our species is that we like to sit and rest because we need to conserve ...more
Alicia Bayer
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite reads in quite a while, which is saying a lot (I think I read over 300 books last year). It's fascinating, helpful, informative and really well researched. I found myself telling family members about it again and again, which is the biggest sign that a book is a hit with me.

Lieberman is an anthropologist who has thoroughly researched what sorts of natural exercise humans have evolved to do over time, along with how our closest primate relatives exercise and what makes
"The U.S. government recommends I engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week and weight train at least twice a week. Epidemiologists have calculated that this level of activity will reduce my risk of dying prematurely by 50 percent and lower my chances of getting heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers by roughly 30 to 50 percent..."

You can't buy the kind of benefits that regular exercise can provide for your healthspan, your lifespan, your menta
Conor Dooney
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book on a conversation that can be quite polarised. It is an analysis on how while our modern day lifestyles are drastically different to our hunter-gatherer friends, our bodies are still the same.

I really liked this book. Lieberman keeps his discussion pretty tight and does a good job of being empathetic on a divisive topic . As someone who probably lacks empathy for those who do not prioritise exercise, I think it was important for me to see the other side of the coin. Hu
Feb 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
i read this book bc an excerpt online was interesting and it WAS interesting but being a harvard anthropologist def makes you a sociopath because i was just like *frysquint* the whole time waiting for his self assured smuggery to tilt into full on bigoted essentialism. going to harvard makes you a sociopath.
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the most well-researched and extensive books written on exercise, its evolutionary aspects and very accurately, the physiological effects of exercise. Huge fan of Lieberman now!
William Connelly
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Challenges some well established myths regarding physical activity (our ancestors were nowhere near as active as we think and standing is not any physiologically different to sitting - it’s all about movement) which I enjoyed. Keep moving and keep it simple is the message - movement works. There’s a lot of evolutionary biology which I found a bit dry and not to my tastes. Would be of interest to someone with a physiology or sports science background.
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
3,5 would be a more correct rating. Interesting insights but sometimes repetitive and some section would benefit from.being more condensed.
Nicole Barbaro
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Did we evolve to exercise, as in voluntarily do goal-less physical activity? No. Did we evolve to be a physically active primate? Yes.

Although these appear to be contradictory statements, they’re not. As Daniel Lieberman elegantly, and humorously, explains in his new book, Exercised, to understand the role of exercise in our modern world, we need to carefully examine our evolutionary history to see why exercise is a necessity in the WEIRD world, despite it being a modern phenomenon.

His thesis
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Excellent book looking at why we need exercise and why we naturally try to avoid it, using genetics, anthropology, anatomy, and biology to explain. Not terrifically complex, but I never felt I was being talked down to. Nicely structured with plenty of humor and asides to lighten things up. Not a self-help book, his recommendations are fairly vague and he doesn’t present some complex exercise regime - he ends the book with “Make exercise necessary and fun. Do mostly cardio, but also some weights. ...more
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it
A good introduction or overview not particularly surprising material I’m not sure how prevalent the so-called myths are I didn’t find anything I hadn’t heard before but I have read the author on running previously. Some of the personal stuff I find tedious but that’s a matter of taste. The science itself however is good.
Megan S
Mar 30, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is quite long and covers a lot of topics surrounding exercise. For me it seemed the first half was more anthropologically inspired, and the second more influenced by modern studies.
The book needs a good edit. It’s too long, it’s a work out in itself just getting though it. He also repeats himself word for word multiple times. I will now never forget what hyraxes are! The thought processes weren’t always clear and the points the author was trying to make did not stand out, and were ofte
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Absolutely brilliant book, highly recommended.
Danny Bunn
Jan 29, 2021 rated it liked it
I’ll save you 7 hours....

We didn’t evolve to run marathons, play tennis, go jogging etc. Nor did we evolve to sit around all day.

Move often. Eat fresh food. Cardio is good. Cardio with some strength training is better. Just pumping weights is not as good as cardio. Walk sometimes. Jog sometimes. Go hard sometimes. You don’t stop moving because you get old. You get old because you stop moving.
Jake Hancox
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Two things that have kept me sane throughout this pandemic.... Reading and Exercise.
Sangkyu Lee
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I did not like exercising. PEs were terrible but even worse were the lunch breaks when all the boys dashed out to the soccer field (well, a plot of empty ground thinly covered with sand) and played football (among a hundred others, somehow recognising who's playing whose game). Meanwhile I remained in the classroom with precisely all the girls to complain about how uncivilised boys were.

Fast forward to now, and I still; do not particularly like exercising. It's deeply painful and somehow boring
Daniel E. Lieberman's Exercised is an accessible tour of the basic findings of exercise science from an evolutionary/paleoanthropological perspective. Lieberman's central claim is that exercise, as in intentional physical activity for the purposes of maintaining health and fitness, is a weird and very recent phenomenon in annals of human history. Ergo, exercise is not something humans are particularly adapted for - though Lieberman means this more in the psychological than physical sense as he e ...more
May 15, 2021 rated it liked it
An interesting and thorough nonfiction study of exercise, and the paradox of why we hate to do something that is clearly so good for us.

The author walks us through human history, and how "exercise" used to be what you had to do to stay alive, i.e. hunting and gathering. Later on, even farming is far, far more active than today's desk job. Modern life is truly weird and a massive departure from the way we used to live. In the old days, you ran after game because you had to, and then yes, you were
Dale Muckerman
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A well researched and innovative study of exercise, why we don’t like it, and why it is important. In some ways, this book offers no miraculous advice about exercise. Simply put, exercise is healthy and can help prevent physical and mental diseases. What is innovative about the book is its anthropological perspective. This perspective is refreshing as it counters not only the magical claims of many exercise enthusiasts but also the fatalistic viewpoint of those who want to claim that dna or scie ...more
Sumit Banerjee
Daniel Lieberman produces a unique book that blends anthropology, fitness and wit into this amazing hardbound that demystifies the science behind exercise. Are we evolved to exercise, or are we destined to be couch potatoes? Is exercise necessary or does it even help us in living long?

Lieberman uses a lot of research and explains what happens when we sleep, sit, or walk. He also explains if running is better or walking for someone. And does exercise really help in countering the postindustrial l
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Exercised is a fantastic read, which I would recommend to anyone. At least I like to look at the challenges we face today from a history and evolution point of view. Lieberman explains how humans evolved to move, how our activity behavior is different today than thousands of years ago, and mostly why. I value the explanation of why we need to move the most from this book. Everyone will tell you that exercise is good for your health, and everyone has their own belief what is considered a healthy, ...more
Zoë Soriano
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
For those who LOVE learning new things, and are excited about biology, anthropology, and of course, exercise.
I have a love / hate relationship with exercise as a former person with an ED, but this book never triggered, never fat shamed, and was pure education.
I will say though that due to the more scholarly nature of the book, it can feel very dense and be hard to read - and I did often skip chapters that I just wasn’t interested in at all.
Jun 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Tough for me to star rate this book—3.5 stars?? It has an interesting premise and cites much research throughout, though much is inconclusive. Makes me look at exercise from an evolutionary perspective which I’ve never done. Gives me even more reasons to move my body on a regular basis—now I have organ fat to worry about! I like his intimate and sometimes humorous voice. I thought it was too detailed and laborious to read in the first picked up quite a bit when I got to the final secti ...more
Mary Sullivan
Feb 09, 2021 rated it liked it
I didn’t realize this book was by an anthropologist which admittedly may have skewed my opinion. I wanted to learn about the science behind exercise. That being said, I did learn about how we as humans have evolved alongside and how exercise fits into our lifestyles (or doesn’t for some). While there were some interesting anecdotes and stories, I don’t think I’ll be rereading this.
Jenny Rae
Jun 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Anthropology is not really my jam but some moments throughout this were revelatory and fascinating. Other moments were a slog. The research was impeccable, for sure, and the points made were important. It felt really repetitive at times - we didn't evolve to exercise, but exercise is good - now let me see how many ways I can say this. ...more
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Daniel E. Lieberman (born June 3, 1964) is a paleoanthropologist at Harvard University, where he is the Edwin M Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences, and chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. He is best known for his research on the evolution of the human head and the evolution of the human body.

Lieberman was educated at Harvard University, where he obtained his A.B., M.A. a

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