Summary of “Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health” by Daniel Lieberman

Richard H Webb
5 min readJul 13, 2023

“Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest, and Health” by Daniel E. Lieberman is a thought-provoking and comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted relationship between exercise, rest, and human health. In this book, Lieberman, a renowned evolutionary biologist, takes readers on a journey through time, tracing the origins of exercise in our evolutionary history and examining its profound impact on our physical and mental well-being. With a blend of scientific research, evolutionary insights, and practical advice, Lieberman challenges conventional wisdom and offers a fresh perspective on the role of physical activity in our modern sedentary lives. By dissecting the intricate connections between exercise, rest, and overall health, Lieberman provides readers, whether fitness enthusiasts or health seekers, with a wealth of knowledge and guidance to navigate the complexities of leading a balanced and active lifestyle. I read this as part of my journey and to find support for my book, “Fat Burning Secrets: Efficiency in Fitness.” Here’s a chapter by chapter summary:

Cover for the book, “Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest, and Health,” but Daniel Lieberman.

Chapter 1: The Evolution of Exercise

In the opening chapter of “Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health,” Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman explores the evolutionary history of exercise and its significance in human life. He discusses how our ancestors evolved to be physically active beings, relying on exercise for survival and reproduction. Drawing from archaeological and anthropological evidence, Lieberman emphasizes the fundamental role of physical activity in shaping our bodies and brains. He introduces the concept of the “mismatch” between our evolutionary past and our modern sedentary lifestyles, highlighting the potential consequences for our health and well-being.

Chapter 2: The Medicine of Exercise

In Chapter 2, Lieberman delves into the medicinal benefits of exercise. He examines how physical activity positively impacts various aspects of our health, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Lieberman presents scientific evidence supporting the role of exercise in enhancing mental health and cognitive function. He emphasizes the importance of regular physical activity as a preventive measure against common health ailments, arguing that exercise can be viewed as medicine.

Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest, and Health” by Daniel Lieberman is available on Amazon in paperback and hardback formats. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Chapter 3: The Evolution of Rest

Shifting focus to the counterpart of exercise, Lieberman explores the evolutionary significance of rest in Chapter 3. He highlights the importance of adequate rest for maintaining overall health and well-being. By examining the sleep patterns of our evolutionary ancestors and comparing them to modern sleep patterns, he reveals the potential consequences of sleep deprivation and the impact it can have on our physical and mental health.

Chapter 4: Physical Activity and Health

In this chapter, Lieberman delves deeper into the relationship between physical activity and health. He provides an overview of the evidence-based guidelines for exercise and its impact on various health outcomes. Drawing from scientific studies, he explains the dosage of exercise needed to achieve different health benefits and the potential risks associated with excessive exercise. Lieberman also addresses common misconceptions about physical activity and dispels myths surrounding exercise, providing readers with a clear understanding of how exercise can contribute to their overall health.

Chapter 5: The Psychology of Physical Activity

Lieberman explores the psychological aspects of physical activity in Chapter 5. He discusses the relationship between exercise and mood, stress reduction, and overall well-being. Drawing on scientific research, he explains how exercise can boost mood, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and enhance cognitive function. Lieberman emphasizes the importance of finding enjoyable physical activities and incorporating them into our daily lives to improve our mental and emotional health.

Chapter 6: Sitting, Standing, and Lying Down

Man sitting in front of a computer screen

In this chapter, Lieberman examines the impact of sedentary behaviors on our health. He discusses the health risks associated with prolonged sitting and the potential benefits of incorporating more standing and movement into our daily routines. Drawing from evolutionary perspectives, he explains how our bodies are not well adapted to prolonged sitting, and provides practical tips for reducing sedentary behavior in different aspects of our lives.

Chapter 7: The Future of Physical Activity

This is actually me exercising.

In the final chapter, Lieberman reflects on the future of physical activity and its implications for our health and well-being. He discusses the challenges posed by modern environments that promote sedentary behavior and the need for societal changes to prioritize physical activity. Lieberman emphasizes the importance of adopting a holistic approach to health, considering the interplay between exercise, rest, and other lifestyle factors. He concludes with a call to action, urging individuals, communities, and policymakers to prioritize physical activity for the betterment of our collective health.

Conclusion

In “Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest, and Health,” Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman presents a comprehensive exploration of the evolutionary, physiological, psychological, and societal aspects of exercise. Through engaging and accessible writing, Lieberman provides readers with a deep understanding of the importance of physical activity for our overall health and well-being. His evidence-based approach and incorporation of evolutionary perspectives offer valuable insights into the optimal ways to incorporate exercise into our daily lives. Whether you are a fitness enthusiast or someone seeking to improve their health, this book provides a wealth of knowledge and practical guidance to help you harness the power of physical activity for a healthier, happier life.

Additionally, when he talks about exercise, he emphasizes strength training over cardio because lack of muscle mass and lack of body control lead to many of the falls elderly people endure. I recommend this book, but I also emphasize that it highlights the importance of exercise on not only long term physical, but also mental well being. My book is a journey through better eating, very efficient strength training workouts combined with minimal cardio. Finally, I put in better diet for the most efficient fat-burning approach to fitness. Get my book, “Fat Burning Secrets” in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.

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Richard H Webb

Richard Webb is the author of "Fat Burning Secrets" on Amazon, and a tech, travel and fitness blogger.