Basic instincts make couch more appealing than gym

Humans will always have to battle the primal desire to put their feet up.

Humans will always have to battle the primal desire to put their feet up.

I'm starting to think you're an exercist.

Why so? Even on my very worst date, I've never been locked in a life and death confrontation with a head-spinning evil spirit from hell.

Not exorcist. Exercist. It's what author Daniel Lieberman calls people who brag about how hard they exercise while shaming the rest of us for our sloth-like existence.

You know the ones: 'Hey, I pushed out 100 squats in the time it took you to lift your coffee cup.'

Who is this Lieberman? He sounds like he's never known the joy of bossing a 5k or pushing out that last rep - or even holding the one-handed tree pose for three seconds.

He's not my boot camp brethren. In fact, I bet his book's all about the joys of bingeing Netflix on a couch constructed from recently emptied Pringles tubes.

That's where you're wrong. He's a 24-time marathoner who extols the benefits of barefoot running. And he's also a Harvard professor of evolutionary human biology.

His new book, Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding, is all about exploding fitness myths.

Ooh, I love exploding myths. Which ones does Lieberman detonate?

The biggie is that exercise is natural. According to Lieberman, research shows that humans are hardwired to rest.

Our cave dwelling ancestors saved energy for when it was necessary or fun.

And actually, that wasn't often. Between bouts of hunting and shagging, they simply sat around.

So - does Lieberman love or loathe exercise?

He loves it, but he acknowledges that finding the motivation to do it isn't easy, because we're forever fighting our primal urge to lounge around.

His book suggests various ways we can bypass our inner slacker and learn to enjoy more activity.

And we shouldn't make anyone feel bad about being a gym dodger, because they're only human.

Ah, I see. I rather like that. It makes the satisfaction of a workout all the sweeter, knowing it represents a victory over my basic instincts.

One other thing: all those people who pump iron in pursuit of a big, brawny caveman build are mistaken.

Lieberman says Neanderthals were only a teeny bit more muscular than modern people.

Ah, they probably did pilates.

  • Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding by Daniel Lieberman is available for $39.99, published by Penguin.