Book Review: Exercised

Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding by Daniel E. Lieberman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me begin this by dropping some quotes from the group chat where I was bitching about how much I hated the author:

“Um well ACTUALLY hunter gatherers aren’t that much more fit than modern westerners bc they don’t even like running or training and they only run 50 miles a day once in a while so basically what you’re doing is wet, grotesque nasal snivel really normal and okay”

And he keeps dropping in anecdotes about his life as all these pop sci guys do. The intro was how he was in Hawaii to watch the iron man triathlon and he was gloating about how he got to go back to his hotel and have tropical breakfast while the competitors were doing the 112 mile bike ride

Now he’s on the strength chapter talking about how he lifted for six months and “hated it, the gym was a joyless dungeon and nobody seemed to be having a good time”

We get it, professor. You’re an honorless geek.

Trying to refute the canon that humans have been social sleepers throughout history and didn’t start doing this “one to a room” shit until the past couple centuries by saying “well I’M conditioned to ONLY want to sleep with my WIFE who’s a GIRL (yes she smokes weed)”

“And when the other anthropologists on the safari all slept in the same bed I CHOSE to sleep on the floor”

“I never thought of classifying boxing as a sport because I never thought of it as a sport”. You guys wanna road trip to Massachusetts and jump this dude real quick? We can find him at Harvard, he name-dropped it 12 times so far.

Now that we’re through that, I remember why I put off reviewing this book for so long.

The science was good. Exhaustively researched, well-designed, cited appropriately. The author of the book is a dweeb-ass coward, and I cannot conceive of why they would choose an audiobook narrator with a lisp. I had no choice but to give it two stars because there was nothing wrong with the information, per se, and I did learn some things. Gorillas have a 40 lb colon to extract all the nutrients from their herbivorous diet, which is why they got big ol’ guts and don’t move around too much. Nature’s natty vegan powerlifters.

My issue, aside from a disgust that borders on the innate arachnid reflex, is that Lieberman’s a poisoner. He’s using these exercise studies and vague interpretations of the anthropological record to encourage us to be callow and lazy, and to accept these obvious personal failings in ourselves as “not our fault” and “the result of an evolutionary imperative” because our squishy machinery is designed to minimize effort and, in so doing, minimize caloric expenditure.

Which would be just peachy, if there were any value in convincing people to accept their lack of willpower and fallacious appeal-to-nature lethargy in the midst of the greatest obesity epidemic humankind has ever seen.

But since a third of American children are overweight or obese, and a sixth have diabetes or prediabetes, maybe gently whispering “Shhh, you’re fine just the way you are because of evolution :)” is not only unhelpful, but actively harmful.

It is bad to be lazy. I encourage you to feel bad about it, then take steps to correct it. Our closest primate relatives throw shit around a lot, and an argument can be made that we are evolutionarily predisposed to that, especially with the layout of our pectoral/deltoid throwing muscles. So imagine an evolutionary biologist tells you that it’s totally normal to want to throw shit at everyone at your little cousin’s quinceanera. How you gonna feel about that? How’s she gonna feel about that?

Probably bad.

Like this book. And I was especially disappointed because all the topics covered in the book were pertinent to my interests. I would’ve loved to love it, but the author and the speech impediment of his mouthpiece made it impossible.

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