‘Exercise’, the book by a Harvard professor that explains why human beings are not made to run for a long time and need to sit down

Although the current trend is to adopt a lifestyle fitnessDaniel E. Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology and Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University, comes to dismantle with a book the myth of a healthy life supported by continuous exercise over time. The work in question is called Exercise and in Spanish he publishes it Past and Present editorial with the subtitle “How we never evolved to exercise. Why it’s healthy and what we should do.”

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Exercising has become such a common activity in our society that those who don’t practice it often feel left out. But, in reality, the human being never evolved to exercise and, from a scientific point of view, it is a strange activityaccording to Lieberman.

However, in Exercise, no reader will find that it is not worth exercising, although there are arguments to moderate. Because, as developed in the thesis of this essay, evolution did not make us human to run, but to walk and that is why instinct applauds us when we rest and remain seated.

Daniel Lieberman unravels in the pages of his book the secrets of physical exercise using the tools of evolutionary anthropology to dismantle some myths that are linked to physical exercise. In addition, it helps us discover why and what type of exercise is the most convenient to maintain health and fight diseases.

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From the valleys of Tanzania to the mountain ranges where the Tarahumara live, passing through marathons and great athletes like Usain Bolt, the professor proposes help us understand how we should really understand the human exercise.

Sitting is not the new smoking

In his visits to hunter-gatherer societies, Lieberman observed that their members they spent long hours lying down or sitting while talking or doing work that did not require standing. However, when hunting or fetching water, they could travel more than 12 kilometers a day.

So, Lieberman believes, instead of demonizing a completely normal activity like sitting, we should promote healthier ways of doing itsuch as remembering to get up often (for example, not sitting for more than 45 minutes at a time) and making sure we don’t sit all day.

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excess calories consumed

In fact, “compared to other mammals, humans may have evolved to be especially averse to exercise”, argued Lieberman in a promotional interview for his book. And it is that our instinct has educated us not to waste energy on unnecessary efforts.

This is because the energy expenditure of basal metabolism (that of the most basic processes to keep us alive) is 1,530 calories. Only the brain already consumes between 20% and 25% of the total. Therefore, according to the professor’s accounts, a person who weighs about 82 kilos you will spend about 1,700 calories even if you sit for 24 hours.

moderate exercise

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However, in this book the author does not advocate sedentary life and details the relationship between sport, health and disease. In addition, it explains why it is easier for us to walk than to run or, in short, to do light exercise instead of pushing our bodies to the limit.

And it is that we are adapted to carry out a reasonable amount of moderate physical activity and, occasionally, an intense one. It is a basic instinct to avoid physical activity when it is not necessary or rewarding. To face this situation, Lieberman defends small acts to be active like taking about 10,000 steps a day (the equivalent of about eight kilometers). To know the rest, you will have to read the book.



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Photos | oysho

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