Exercised, Daniel Lieberman


I wrote about Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health as part of a feature on finding motivation to exercise through the winter/horrifying global pandemic.

The book is far more interesting than I was able to share in the short piece. I could summarise it as ‘don’t worry about breaking a sweat but do move your fat ass more’ however that might lead you to think you don’t need to bother reading it and you should, because it’s brilliant.

Lieberman is a Harvard professor and his book is hard on research and light in tone. It might seem counterintuitive to suggest sitting down for five or so hours but afterwards you won’t want to rest for a minute.

There’s no hypnosis involved but a lot of common sense and some surprising findings, such as how we’re hardwired to resist unnecessary exercise, ergo you’re not just lazy! There’s so much pressure and guilt connected to exercise and Lieberman explores the commodification of this huge industry without damning it. He isn’t into scaring readers into exercising, or pushing the latest evidence for strength over cardio training, but provides a welcome step back from the pressure to exercise which has intensified this year with the pressure to be healthy in order to escape death by Covid.

Exercised ends with a look at how each type of sport or gym might help to limit various illnesses. We’re keen on blaming sedentary jobs but Lieberman finds far more evidence damning the sedentariness of the rest of our lives. Guess we can blame Netflix?