7 Big Exercise Myths

Why laziness is normal and exercise is not

Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

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Photo: Allan Danahar/Getty Images

On a recent “bloody cold” Massachusetts morning, Harvard University evolutionary biologist and paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman, PhD, wasn’t eager to embark on his usual five-mile jog. “I did not want to leave the house, and I whined and complained to my wife for about 45 minutes,” he recalls. But as an expert on human movement and its many benefits, he understands the modern necessity of substituting unnatural exercises like jogging and weightlifting for the natural activities we evolved for, like hunting and gathering. Ultimately he forced himself out the door, slogged through the first miserable mile, finally hit his stride, and was glad for the effort and the feel-good chemicals it generated.

When the scientist, who in normal times travels the world for research, takes his morning jog in some remote village on a different continent, hunter-gatherers will often sit and stare, shake their heads, and even laugh at this person who chooses to undertake physical activity not necessary for survival or procreation.

“Exercise is like learning algebra. It can be useful, but we never evolved to do it.”

Women and men in Tanzania’s Hadza tribe, among the most well-studied hunter-gatherer societies, have no…

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Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB