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The Joy of Movement

How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage
Narrated by: Kelly McGonigal
Length: 7 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Summary

The best-selling author of The Willpower Instinct introduces a surprising science-based audiobook that doesn't tell us why we should exercise but instead shows us how to fall in love with movement.

Exercise is health-enhancing and life-extending, yet many of us feel it's a chore. But as Kelly McGonigal reveals, it doesn't have to be. Movement can and should be a source of joy.

Through her trademark blend of science and storytelling, McGonigal draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, as well as memoirs, ethnographies, and philosophers. She shows how movement is intertwined with some of the most basic human joys, including self-expression, social connection, and mastery - and why it is a powerful antidote to the modern epidemics of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

McGonigal tells the stories of people who have found fulfillment and belonging through running, walking, dancing, swimming, weightlifting, and more, with examples that span the globe, from Tanzania, where one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes on the planet live, to a dance class at Juilliard for people with Parkinson's disease, to the streets of London, where volunteers combine fitness and community service, to races in the remote wilderness, where athletes push the limits of what a human can endure. Along the way, McGonigal paints a portrait of human nature that highlights our capacity for hope, cooperation, and self-transcendence.

The result is a revolutionary narrative that goes beyond familiar arguments in favor of exercise, to illustrate why movement is integral to both our happiness and our humanity. Listeners will learn what they can do in their own lives and communities to harness the power of movement to create happiness, meaning, and connection.

©2019 Kelly McGonigal (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Part scientific exploration, part inspirational story, part intimate love letter to physical activity, The Joy of Movement reveals how what many consider as just 'exercise' is actually so much more - a pathway to not only physical and mental health, but also love, connection, and community. Kelly has written a fascinating book that is a must-read for everyone, really." (Brad Stulberg, best-selling author of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox; columnist at Outside Magazine)

"As someone who has long believed that we were born to run, I was fascinated by Kelly McGonigal’s account of a much broader truth: We were born to move. Threading together unexpected insights from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, philosophy, and more, The Joy of Movement makes a compelling scientific case for the role of exercise in promoting pleasure, social connection, and hope." (Alex Hutchinson, New York Times best-selling author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance)

"I love this book. Kelly McGonigal brings us to the cutting edge of exercise neuroscience that greatly expands our understanding." (John J. Ratey, MD, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School)

"This book reminded me that no matter what injuries or obstacles I have to overcome, I can always find joy in movement, and I am stronger than I realize!" (Jessie Graff, American Ninja Warrior competitor and Action Icon Award Stuntwoman of the Year)

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not much science here

Possibly because of the description this title was a total disappointment. Not much science just anecdote after anecdote about how much people enjoy exercise. The title of the book then is reasonably accurate but the description might lead to unfulfilled expectations. Unlike exercise, which I enjoy and commit to, I gave up on the book halfway through.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

A book to fill your heart and ignite your hope.

What a wonderful book to help get you excited about getting back in to exercise.
I cant wait to start running again and this really resounded with me in terms of how exercise can help ignite hope.

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  • PMRisher
  • 15-02-20

Academic - Not a Self-Help Book

First, I am a huge fan of Kelly McGonical and her book, the Willpower Instinct, is a must read/listen. However, I thought this was going to be a guidebook or motivational book for someone wanting to develop a real exercise habit. It is not - at least not up to the to 3 1/2 hours point when I reached my limit.

The book is an academic discussion of the physical exercise, especially group exercise and exercise at high intensity. I am a nerd so it is not that the content is not understandable, but at least for me, it is essentially irrelevant.

My recommendation is to know what you are buying and if you are not sure, go to Google Books and read a little of this book before purchasing so you are not disappointed.



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  • Bat-tastick Boshers
  • 15-01-20

Very motivating

I have not been very active in a long time. While I knew most of the benefits she listed, listening certainly has made me want to get up and run. There are very inspiring stories in here.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • 26-02-20

Great at first

The beginning of the book reeled me in hard. I loved all the studies and data. The anecdotes complimented the message. The first half, at least, is five stars for me. It started to drag however. For me it got too sentimental and there were fewer and fewer studies cited. The anecdotes stopped having their power that they did at the start. If I didn’t so badly want to finish just because I started I would have stopped a few chapters in.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Katie Rose
  • 24-01-20

Perfect for fitness instructors and regular people

The content of this book struck deep chords within me as a human being and a person who enjoys exercise. The author/ narrator has a smooth and soothing voice that inspires the listener to get up and get moving with their fellow man just for the joy of it.

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  • Tara Haggerty
  • 13-01-20

Loved it!

I’m happy to say this book inspired me and encouraged me to get some kind of movement in my life as many days as I can! So many moving stories too!
Thanks for this book!

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  • Rajiv
  • 27-06-20

Boy, Human Beings are Meant to Move

Kelly McGonigal does a great job explaining how movement decreases anxiety and brings people together. She also explains how movement under certain conditions (outdoors or with music) get people to not only move better but feel better.

If I am ever set to a desk again, I will always keep finding a way to move. I remember how constantly sitting at desks made me depressed and feel like I was throwing my life away. Any form of movement will feel as if I am not.

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  • RueRue
  • 27-06-20

The joy of exercise

Admittedly, this book was really a case of preaching to the choir. Exercise is a vital part of my life; I've been a fitness instructor for 30+ years, so I certainly didn't need to be convinced that exercise is essential to a happy, healthy life. It was interesting, though, to read the summarization of multiple studies that support this, and I related to the author and the passion we share for group exercise. Very informative.

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  • Jan S.
  • 09-06-20

An inspiration for body, mind, and soul!

I love the weaving of information from studies with the anecdotes from athletes around the world. A touching work!! The narration was very well done, too. :)

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  • Alex
  • 30-05-20

good but not a favorite

wanted to like it a lot more, has some good nuggets but not much new stuff for an entire book. like beginning and end, middle was difficult to push through

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  • Leanne
  • 27-05-20

Not what I expected

I wanted more from this book than it delivered. I thought it worked offer more insight into motivation to exercise. It was more stories of extreme athletes and their endurance.