Book review: Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health

I started CrossFit some time before the pandemic, and I read lots of people saying that exercising is good for your health, that our ancestors were fitter than we are and all sorts of dogmas. When I heard about this book, it looked like it was about finding a balance and shedding the light on what our ancestors really were. When we try to find the truth about some dogmas, I’m always interested.


First, the title of the book is a play on words that I didn’t understand at first. “Exercised” was not something I found negative because I didn’t know about the origin of the word, so there is inside the book a tension between the good aspect of exercises and the bad aspects of not wanting to do it if we don’t need to.

The book is split in 4 parts aimed at different aspects of “our ancestors did this better). Each chapter starts with a myth that the author wants dissipated. For instance the fact we are not meant to be sited for so long. Each time the author drives from his knowledge of the remote tribes that he was lucky to visit in the past as well as scientific studies.

I like the fact that the author is not trying to make the reader feel guilty for not doing CrossFit everyday. Clearly our ancestors did not have the food to all be Matt Fraser! The reason why we have the tension between needing to exercise and not wanting to exercise is also explained in a similar approach. Hunter gatherers are not the superheroes that we are taught by some they are. But we do also understand the more we read that we don’t have the same incentives than our ancestors had, so we need to get our own personal ones.

Some people don’t want to exercise because there are always examples of sportsmen dying “young”, people with bad health habits surviving longer, but we never talk indeed about the normal people that died too young and that could have lived longer if they exercised. Typically my mother has a disease where her body attacks its muscles, and I’m quite convinced that the regular long walks she does with her dog help her health. My father is almost overweight, but he had to walk for decades up and down hills for his work and is known to have (at least at the time…) a very good health despite too much fat. They probably would have already be gone if they didn’t exercise, or they wouldn’t be in such a great shape if they didn’t.


Just like the author, I think our youth doesn’t do enough sport. Too often it’s about competition and the last ones get a bad taste for it. I know, I was one of them, my son is one of them. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s genes as well. My motor skills are not competition-level-athletes skills, and that’s my brain. I still picked up exercising when I was older because I found something I liked, then the serotonin/endorphin cocktail did the rest.

Let’s find something that we like, no shame in doing something light, nothing to be arrogant because you picked up CrossFit, let’s all get exercised 🙂


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