Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding

Please join The Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital Board of Advisors for an Open Mind program with Daniel Lieberman, Ph.D., author of the best-selling, myth-busting new book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D. , evolutionary biologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and a cardiologist in the Division of Cardiology at UCLA, will join Dr. Lieberman in conversation.

In his new book, Dr. Lieberman, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, discusses the relationship between moderate and vigorous physical activity and human brain size and makes the argument that humans’ exceptionally large brains are in part the result of our ability to engage in endurance physical activities such as long-distance running. He also discusses why physical activity is important for maintaining brain health and that humans evolved to engage in moderate lifelong physical activity when it was necessary and rewarding, but otherwise conserve limited calories. As a result, we never evolved to exercise or do physical activity just for the sake of health and fitness. However, the absence of regular, lifelong physical activity fails to activate important repair and maintenance mechanisms that are important for neural health. As a result, habitual physical inactivity increases our vulnerability to a range of diseases.

Dr. Daniel Lieberman received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge University, and taught at Rutgers University and George Washington University before joining the Harvard Faculty in 2001. He studies and teaches how and why the human body is the way it is, and how our evolutionary history affects health and disease. He is best known for his research on the evolution of the head and on the evolution of running and walking, which he studies by combining experimental biomechanics, anatomy, and physiology, both in the lab and in the field. He has conducted research in Africa for almost 30 years, and now also works in Mexico. He loves teaching and has published well over 150 peer-reviewed papers, many in journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS, as well as three popular books, The Evolution of the Human Head (2011), The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease (2013), and Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding (2021). In his spare time, he enjoys running.

Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz’s research focuses on the natural world as a source of insights into human pathology and developmental challenges. Her New York Times bestseller, Zoobiquity, co-written with Kathryn Bowers, was a finalist in the American Association for the Advancement of Science Excellence in Science Books Award, a Smithsonian Top Book of 2012 and a Discover Magazine Best Book of the Year. It has been translated into seven languages and has been chosen as Common Read at universities across the country. She is also the co-author with Kathryn Bower, of Wildhood – the Astounding Connections Between Humans and Animal Adolescents. Both books were featured at past Open Mind programs.

Tuesday, May 25
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM PDT

Registration is required for this free
live private Zoom event.

To register, click here.

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