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'Endlessly fascinating and full of surprises. Easily one of my books of the year' BILL BRYSON
The myth-busting science behind our modern attitudes to exercise: what our bodies really need, why it matters, and its effects on health and wellbeing.
In industrialized nations, our sedentary lifestyles have contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity and diseases like diabetes. A key remedy, we are told, is exercise - voluntary physical activity for the sake of health. However, most of us struggle to stay fit, and our attitudes to exercise are plagued by misconceptions, finger-pointing and anxiety.
But, as Daniel Lieberman shows in Exercised, the first book of its kind by a leading scientific expert, we never evolved to exercise. We are hardwired for moderate exertion throughout each day, not triathlons or treadmills. Drawing on over a decade of high-level scientific research and eye-opening insights from evolutionary biology and anthropology, Lieberman explains precisely how exercise can promote health; debunks persistent myths about sitting, speed, strength and endurance; and points the way towards more enjoyable and physically active living in the modern world.
'Myth-busting, illuminating, brilliant - Lieberman will completely change the way you think about your body' Professor ALICE ROBERTS, presenter of Our Incredible Human Journey
Story of the Human Body explores how the way we use our bodies is all wrong. From an evolutionary perspective, if normal is defined as what most people have done for millions of years, then it's normal to walk and run 9 -15 kilometers a day to hunt and gather fresh food which is high in fibre, low in sugar, and barely processed. It's also normal to spend much of your time nursing, napping, making stone tools, and gossiping with a small band of people.
Our 21st-century lifestyles, argues Dan Lieberman, are out of synch with our stone-age bodies. Never have we been so healthy and long-lived - but never, too, have we been so prone to a slew of problems that were, until recently, rare or unknown, from asthma, to diabetes, to - scariest of all - overpopulation.
Story of the Human Body asks how our bodies got to be the way they are, and considers how that evolutionary history - both ancient and recent - can help us evaluate how we use our bodies. How is the present-day state of the human body related to the past? And what is the human body's future?
Daniel Lieberman is the Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and a leader in the field. He has written nearly 100 articles, many appearing in the journals Nature and Science, and his cover story on barefoot running in Nature was picked up by major media the world over. His research and discoveries have been highlighted in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Discover, and National Geographic.
Exhaustively researched and years in the making, this innovative book documents how the many components of the head function, how they evolved since we diverged from the apes, and how they interact in diverse ways both functionally and developmentally, causing them to be highly integrated. This integration not only permits the head’s many units to accommodate each other as they grow and work, but also facilitates evolutionary change. Lieberman shows how, when, and why the major transformations evident in the evolution of the human head occurred. The special way the head is integrated, Lieberman argues, made it possible for a few developmental shifts to have had widespread effects on craniofacial growth, yet still permit the head to function exquisitely.
This is the first book to explore in depth what happened in human evolution by integrating principles of development and functional morphology with the hominin fossil record. The Evolution of the Human Head will permanently change the study of human evolution and has widespread ramifications for thinking about other branches of evolutionary biology.