Book Review: “Exercised” — Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding

By Marlene Caraballo
February 26, 2023

Author: Daniel E. Lieberman | Review by Marlene Caraballo ~

Exercised, by Daniel Lieberman, is an informative and interesting examination of how physical activity is directly connected to our overall well-being. As someone who doesn’t naturally love to exercise, but is convinced it’s good for me, I remained committed to reading this book all the way through in the hope of finding a renewed vow to exercise more.

Lieberman draws insights that begin with the activity and health of hunter-gatherers across the globe who live a life of unintentional exercise for their survival. He compares how those of us who lead generally sedentary lives use intentional exercise, such as running and weightlifting, to recreate what our bodies were designed to do to before progress led to rising rates of disease and an epidemic of inactivity.

A book with 70 pages of notes and citations at the end could read more like a scientific journal, but I enjoyed how Lieberman keeps his writing digestible for the average reader while backing up every conclusion he comes to with studies and statistics.

As you may have expected, exercise is good for you! What’s interesting is that he makes the case that we didn’t evolve to intentionally exercise but instead were meant to be physically active as a way of life. Unfortunately for most of us, the necessity to be active — to hunt, chase, dig, carry loads, and carve tools — has mostly disappeared from our lives. What kept our ancestors fit and mobile simply isn’t a way of life these days.

The other critical point Lieberman makes is that as life expectancy extends, our goal should be to live long well — physically and mentally spry, mobile, and with as little limitation as possible — for as close to our expiration date as possible.

Living to be 80 years old, but spending your final 25 years with debilitating disease, is not the goal. Heading into your 70s and beyond, maintaining a physically active life and having fun, is. And, like it or not, Lieberman proves the point (we already knew but might have ignored) that intentional exercise will statistically increase our chances of doing so.

Unless you already adore exercise and don’t need a boost in motivation, I absolutely recommend reading this book. I’m more convinced than ever that exercise is one of the choices I can make daily that will benefit my overall well-being and longevity.

By the end of the book, I was inspired to dust off my weight set and determined to turn up the intensity of my daily walks. I might not go hunting for my dinner, but I do want to be fit enough to have fun well into my golden years!

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