Working up a Sweat

Quote: Between 1965 and 2009, the amount of time Americans sit around increased by 43%. Daniel E. Lieberman

It’s a typical New Year’s resolution: you’re going to get in better shape. To do it, you’ll eat less or healthier and you’re also going to exercise more. Here’s the math. For the average adult American weighing 180 pounds, total daily energy expenditure is about 2,700 calories. Maintaining our body, i.e., our resting metabolism, will cover only 1,700 of those calories.

Where can you “pick up the slack” by expending another 1,000 calories each day? You might still be growing. You might be sexually active. You might be otherwise physically active, i.e., exercise. Those are your options. Otherwise, that extra 1,000 calories will go towards storing energy, i.e., getting fatter.

Human beings have not evolved to use up extra calories through exercise, even though that would be healthier. We inherited a survival strategy based on reserving our extra calories, a trait that has helped us stay alive and reproduce in the past. If we have not inherited an instinct to help us work up a sweat, what will motivate us? The answers is making it fun, including: exercising with friends, doing so while entertaining yourself, as part of a game, in a nice setting, and adding variety to exercise routines. Finally, set realistic goals in order to stay with it. Use those tips to make your life span and health span overlap.

Despite Not Evolving to Exercise, It’s Healthy

Released today: episode #35 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Daniel E. Lieberman, the author of Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and RewardingListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Author Daniel E. Lieberman and a photo of his new book: Exercised Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Episode 35 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "Despite Not Evolving to Exercise, It's Healthy"

Lieberman is the Lerner Professor of Biological Sciences in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge Universities. This episode isn’t about how to exercise (more) but, rather, why exercise is important and the myths that surround it. A key part of the conversation is a comparison between Westerners and non-Westerners, especially in Africa, to offer insights of what kind of historic lifestyle patterns Americans now run the risk of violating.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

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