SCIENCES

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

Pantheon. Sept. 2020. 464p. ISBN 9781524746988. $29.95. SCI
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Lieberman (paleoanthropologist, Harvard Univ.; The story of the Human Body) explores the paradox of exercise, “a source of pleasure and health but a cause of discomfort [and] guilt.” The benefits of exercise are well-known, but the vast amount of opinions, research, and trends in the field show that humans are still confused about how to do it safely, enjoyably, and beneficially. He suggests that the contemporary Western approach to exercise is riddled with misunderstandings because evolutionary and anthropological perspectives on physical activity are usually overlooked. He evaluates common myths about exercise and health, including the idea of a correct amount of sleep, the dangers of sitting too much, and the role
of inactivity. He concludes that while our bodies evolved to exercise, our minds did not; to overcome this barrier, exercise needs to be seen as necessary or enjoyable. No exercise instructions or plans are provided in this natural history of exercise, but Lieberman’s explanations and a disease reference may help convince some non-exercisers to start moving.
 
VERDICT Lieberman writes in a clear, approachable style, even when explaining complex research and concepts. Recommended for collections where either exercise science or human evolution are popular subjects.

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