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

January 5, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Leakey Foundation grantee Daniel Lieberman discusses his latest book, Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding.


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? In this lecture, Daniel Lieberman answers these questions and more.



This event is presented by The Leakey Foundation, the Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Cabot Science Library.



More about Dan Lieberman


Daniel Lieberman is the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University, a member of The Leakey Foundation’s Scientific Executive Committee, and a pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity. His research is on how and why the human body is the way it is, with particular foci on the origins of bipedalism, how humans became superlative endurance runners, and the evolution of the highly unusual human head.



More about Exercised


In this myth-busting book, Daniel Lieberman tells the story of how we never evolved to exercise—to do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health. Using his own research and experiences throughout the world, Lieberman recounts without jargon how and why humans evolved to walk, run, dig, and do other necessary and rewarding physical activities while avoiding needless exertion. His 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.


Exercised is entertaining and enlightening but also constructive. As our increasingly sedentary lifestyles have contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity and diseases such as diabetes, Lieberman audaciously argues that to become more active we need to do more than medicalize and commodify exercise. Drawing on insights from evolutionary biology and anthropology, Lieberman suggests how we can make exercise more enjoyable, rather than shaming and blaming people for avoiding it. He also tackles the question of whether you can exercise too much, even as he explains why exercise can reduce our vulnerability to the diseases most likely to make us sick and kill us.



This lecture was recorded live on January 5, 2021. The recording of the lecture will be available later this month. 


January 5, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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