Cover of Exercised by Daniel Lieberman

Exercise in the modern world has been commodified. The people talking about it the most are some of the least trustworthy. Daniel Lieberman has taken a step back from the fitness-industrial complex and asked the elephantine question: Are homo sapiens even supposed to exercise? Through the lenses of anthropology and evolution, he has untangled exercise from modern culture. The result is an enlightening journey through history, civilization, and biology.

It is common knowledge that exercise is good for you, but how much? What kind? What about dieting? What about strength? What about weight? Lieberman addresses nearly every aspect of exercise and fitness with clarity and thoroughness. By asking deeper questions, he surprisingly comes to simpler answers. He takes us on a grand tour of human activity, dispels common myths, and distills it all to a simple prescription. Lieberman’s enthusiasm for this topic comes through clearly. It would be hard not to put this book down and go for a walk or a run if this book were not so hard to put down. From surviving pre-industrial peoples to disease and aging, Lieberman puts moving our bodies in context. It’s inspiring, informative, and just plain amazing.

If you have a body, this book is relevant to you. It is both liberating and imprisoning; exercise is not nearly as complicated as the people selling stuff say it is, but it is a very good idea.