Book Review - Dan Lieberman, Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest, and Health


Daniel Lieberman is a Professor of Biological Science at Harvard University, with degrees from both Harvard and Cambridge. Perhaps, on the face of it, he is not someone you would conventionally associate with the mass participation sports industry.

However, his recently published book, Exercised, explores a number of theories which are central to the success of events. As an avid runner himself, Lieberman’s book focuses on how we can make exercise both more fun, and more inclusive in the modern world.

Below, we’ve pulled out our Top 3 insights - but we’d really recommend reading it for yourself. Above all, it’s always great to to learn that science affirms the importance of our industry for people’s lives and wellbeing.

1. FOR MANY PEOPLE, EXERCISE IS NOT FUN

Lieberman remarks that we’ve evolved to be physically active for two core reasons: it’s necessary and it’s fun. However, he goes on to comment how we often fail miserably at making exercise fun, to quote: ‘the notion of exercise is modern, weird, and unpleasant so the best way to do more is to find something you enjoy.’

He cites that this lack of enjoyment often derives from people feeling ashamed or blaming themselves for not exercising, which simply results in them exercising less. 


With this in-mind, Lieberman references the crucial role which the mass participation events can play in getting people active. And, how booking onto races is a great way for people to break out of their rut and enjoy exercise again - it’s safe to say we agree on this point.

2. SOCIAL = FUN

Lieberman believes that making exercise social is integral to making it both fun and inclusive. The success of virtual events and fitness apps such as Strava is a testament to this, with people enjoying the community aspect that allows you to share your exercise with friends.

At Let’s Do This, we believe that experiences are better shared and there is truly no better feeling than crossing the finish-line with a group of friends; now this belief is confirmed by a Harvard Professor!

3. PEOPLE ARE LIVING MORE STATIONARY LIVES

Finally, Lieberman references how the general population is living more stationary lives than ever before. Many will spend an entire day sitting at desks staring at a screen and, as a result, the need for exercise is only increasing.

Again, this points toward how crucial 2021 is going to be for the mass participation events industry. As our research indicates, demand is already on the rise for next year’s events meaning now is the perfect time to get 2021 race calendars up and running in order to capture this pool of demand.

Summary

In short, Lieberman’s book confirms many of the core values at Let’s Do This and, more broadly, within the mass participation events industry - namely that experiences are better shared.

While the last few months have been a tough time for the industry and the world more generally, Lieberman’s writing further cements the important role which our sports events can play in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’d like to hear a short podcast from Lieberman about the book, then you can listen here. (Skip to minute 18)

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