Do you get lost watching videos of people using their bodies in remarkable ways? Is your Instagram feed filled with acrobats, yogis, dancers, skaters, and other athletes?
Me too, and guess what? It’s time to put down the screen, and pick up a book. Here are eight titles for people who love human movement:
Believe it or not, flat feet and low back pain were rare in the ancient world. In this research-heavy book, evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman compares the environment in which our bodies evolved, versus where we live now. Spoiler alert: The two are vastly different. Understanding how and why our bodies developed as they have, allows you to take a more upstream approach to your health and fitness. Have a pen and paper ready. You’ll want to take copious notes.
Have you ever wondered why you start to feel a bit stir-crazy after missing a few morning runs? In Spark, psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey explains why exercise is crucial for cognitive function and general wellbeing. Out of all of the books on this list, this is the one that I’ve recommended most frequently to friends and family. If I were president, it’d be mandatory reading for educators, counselors, and everyone in healthcare.
Prediction: In a few short years, Katy Bowman’s name will be recognized by physical therapists and PE instructors across the world. A biomechanist by training, her thoughts on tissue loading, and exercise versus movement are invaluable to health and rehabilitation. Move Your DNA begins with a look at how mechanical forces shape your body, and ends with practical advice on how to live and move better.
Before Born to Run took the world by storm, Bernd Heinrich’s book explored how persistence hunting shaped humans into ultimate endurance machines. Part memoir, part evolutionary biology exposé, it uncovers the physiological adaptations that allowed humans to overcome prey through slow, sustained running. Even if you’d never be caught dead jogging, I guarantee you’ll find it a fascinating tale.
Today’s extreme athletes perform feats that were unimaginable a few decades ago. From insane big mountain skiing, to surfing monster waves, the evolution of sport is occurring right in front of our eyes. How is any of this possible? In The Rise of Superman, Steven Kotler explains how tapping into a flow state allows athletes to complete complex and frightening skills with ease. Whether or not you aspire to be a world-class athlete, this book provides the ammunition to ensure progression in your favorite sport.
Why is there a story about an outdoor apparel company on this list? One word: passion. Yvon Chouinard’s tale of how he started Patagonia, demonstrates how the love of sport can lead to an amazing life and do social good. If you’ve already read it, consider picking up Raising the Bar as an alternative. It explains how the founder of Clif Bar, an avid cyclist, built another extremely influential and successful business around his love for movement.
What could be better than a World War Two adventure tale crossed with one man’s diary of learning new movement skills? Christopher McDougall is a master storyteller and his latest book takes you on his journey of acquiring the skills to become a real-life hero. Ride along as he learns from parkour, axe throwing, and martial arts instructors.
Domesticated life is the pits. Escape the cage to a world of more playful physical activity. Frank Forencich’s essays on life, movement, and the human predicament, are soul-quenching antidotes to our fitness-industrial complex.