Why a book on fitness for geeks? This is actually a book on fitness for anyone who wishes to do a little research on getting and staying fit. The two main aspects of fitness are covered, diet and exercise. Geeks are interested in knowing how things work, and as one might assume from the title, the main emphasis of the book is charting the mechanisms of health.
Also, as befits the term "geek," a major portion of the book is devoted to describing a number of cell phone apps and web sites that can be used in the endeavor. These range from apps that detail activities and caloric use, to apps that can be used to plan meals with certain goals in mind, to apps that can help one search for particular nutrients when one is on the road. The author makes a case for buying food locally. Most economists will counter that pursuing local buying is actually less "green" than buying at your local supermarket. There are several additional opinions in the book that not backed up by current data.
The basic food groups (macronutrients) are described including how the body uses them, and how certain foods in excess are more likely to contribute to reduced performance and even disease. A recurring theme through the book is the "paleo" diet, a diet based on food choices available to our ancestors 10 millenia ago. A strength of the book is that many of the suggested life style choices are based on articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed journals. There are also many brief interviews within the book which give the opinions of dietary experts, conditioning coaches, world class athletes in many different sports.
A section I enjoyed talked about the benefits of fasting, there is a growing literature on how fasting improves metabolic effiency in the body. Modern lifestyles for many lead to high insulin levels, and high insulin levels are linked to many serious adverse health outcomes. High metabolic efficiency is characterized by low insulin levels, a state that reduces the chances of developing many serious diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The last chapters discuss fitness regimens, both indoor and outdoor. The focus is on a balanced fitness regimen which includes aerobic cardio exercise and strength training. Specific descriptions and recommendations for indoor gym based exercise and outdoor aerobic and anaerobic activites are included.
The importance of sleep, including apps that may help one understand their sleep patterns is discussed. The value of avoiding a set routine, of introducing some randomness into one's exercise activities, is presented. And finally the author talks about massage! A great place to end a book on life style choices.
The book includes endnotes, and a 9 page index. It is published by the Make section of O'Reilly, so it is clearly intended for the DIYer.
This is a comprehensive look at current ideas of how to maximize our health and fitness. It is not perfect, it includes some opinions which are not supported by current science, it even includes some opinions that are countered by a different opinion later in the book. It is appropriately documented, with many stories thrown in for interest. The question is left hanging, are we healthier than our paleolithic forebears? Leaving aside the medical and hygienic advances that rescue many of us from our life style choices, are we healthier than our ancient ancestors?
Highly recommended, partly for the information presented, but more for the spirit in which that information is presented.