Why Exercise Is Hard

Thanks to the University of Minnesota for sponsoring this video!

Because exercise isn’t essential for short-term survival, we don’t exercise enough, so we need to reincorporate purposeful physical activity into our lives.

Thanks also to our Patreon patrons and our YouTube members.
To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Physical activity – any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above a basal level
Exercise – a form of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and performed (primarily) with the goal of improving health or fitness
Recommended levels of physical activity (USA) – 150 minutes moderate-intensity or 75 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination, and muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days / week
Evolutionary medicine – a field that uses evolutionary theory & data to better understand (the origins of) health & disease
Mismatch conditions – health conditions that are more prevalent or severe today than in the past because the body is inadequately or insufficiently adapted to modern environmental conditions (likely including: cavities, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis)
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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer, Editor and Video Narrator: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Arcadi Garcia (@garirius)
Video Director: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Kate Yoshida, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich, Julián Gómez, Sarah Berman
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:



Booth, F. W., et al. 2017. Role of inactivity in chronic diseases: evolutionary insight and pathophysiological mechanisms. Physiological reviews, 97(4), 1351-1402.

Ding, D., et al. 2016. The economic burden of physical inactivity: a global analysis of major non-communicable diseases. The Lancet, 388(10051), 1311-1324.

Hoed, M. D., et al. 2013. Heritability of objectively assessed daily physical activity and sedentary behavior. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 98(5), 1317-1325.

Lee, I. M., et al. 2012. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. The Lancet, 380(9838), 219-229.

Lee, H. H., et al. 2016. The exercise–affect–adherence pathway: an evolutionary perspective. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1285.

Lewis, B. A., personal communication. May 2019.

Lewis, B. A., et al. 2014. A randomized trial examining a physical activity intervention for the prevention of postpartum depression: the healthy mom trial. Mental Health and Physical Activity, 7(1), 42-49.

Lieberman, D. E. 2015. Is exercise really medicine? An evolutionary perspective. Current sports medicine reports, 14(4), 313-319.

Rhodes, R. E., et al. 2018. Theories of physical activity behaviour change: A history and synthesis of approaches. Psychology of Sport and Exercise.

US Department of Health & Human Services. 2018. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC.

US Department of Health & Human Services. 2018. 2018 Physical activity guidelines advisory committee scientific report. Washington, DC.

WHO. 2019. Prevalence of insufficient physical activity. Accessed May 2019.

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