Is Exercise Medicine? An Evolutionary Medical Perspective

Mar 9, 2017

Daniel Lieberman, a paleoanthropologist and biology professor at Harvard University, spoke about his work studying human athletic behavior and performance as part of the Center for Research on Families’ Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series. He said in developed countries there is currently an “exercise paradox”: Although humans evolved to become athletes, few in these countries are adequately physically active. This, Lieberman said, was because we evolved both to be athletes, but also to avoid unnecessary activity.

Lieberman discussed the implications of this paradox for the American healthcare crisis, and proposed that solutions aimed at getting more people to exercise would benefit from an evolutionary understanding of human behavior.

Daniel Lieberman is the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences and chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard. Among his achievements is a 2009 Ig Noble Prize in Physics for “analytically determining why pregnant women don’t tip over.”

This talk was recorded on October 6th, 2016 in the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst.