Fitness for Geeks
Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: April 2012
Pages: 336

If you’re interested in how things work, this guide will help you experiment with one crucial system you usually ignore—your body and its health. Long hours focusing on code or circuits tends to stifle notions of nutrition, but with this educational and highly useful book you can approach fitness through science, whether it’s investigating your ancestral health or using the latest self-tracking apps and gear.

Tune into components of your health through discussions on food, exercise, sleep, hormesis, and other issues—as well as interviews with various scientists and athletes—and discover healthy ways to tinker with your lifestyle.

  • Learn to live in the modern digital world and still be physically vibrant
  • Examine apps and widgets for self-tracking various fitness issues
  • Zero in on carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
  • Find and choose food, and learn when to eat and when to fast
  • Reboot your system through movement in the outside world
  • Select from more than a dozen techniques for your gym workout
  • Fuel fitness by focusing on the science of nutrition and supplements
  • Apply lifestyle hacks, such as high-intensity exercise and good stress
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oreillyFitness for Geeks
 
3.5

(based on 8 reviews)

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75%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (4)
  • Accurate (3)
  • Concise (3)
  • Helpful examples (3)
  • Well-written (3)

Cons

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    • Intermediate (4)
    • Novice (4)
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    Reviewed by 8 customers

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    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    3.0

    Jam packed with information

    By Document Geek

    from NC

    About Me Designer

    Pros

    • Detailed
    • Techy
    • Thorough

    Cons

    • Complicated

    Best Uses

    • Expert
    • Intermediate

    Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

    This book aims to get us out from behind a computer screen, and get moving in the way we were originally designed to do so. The author addresses the all too common modern geek lifestyle of living on coffee, junk food from the office snack bar, and processed take-out food; all while we're behind computer monitors and televisions from early in the morning until late at night.

    There are chapters on nutrition, fitness, sleeping, health monitoring, and spending time outside. The author actually analyzes the sciences behind some rather crazy fitness practices, such as: cold-water swimming, eating a high-fat diet, and fasting. For those people who are into gadgets and stats-tracking, he also provides a detailed list of resources that can help you record your progress (such as websites, smartphone apps, and fancy pedometers).

    He also packs a dizzying amount of nutritional information into this compact book. (I majored in dietetics for three years in college, and this book contains more nutritional information than 3 years of undergraduate work.) He discusses popular nutritional trends, such as the Paleo diet, raw foods, and community gardens.

    For geeks who are into fitness, or want to get into fitness, this book is a great resource. I think some of the ultra-techy parts of it would be best suited toward programmer-types. But even if you're not a programmer obsessed with stats, there is so much information in this book that you could skip over half of it and still get tons of real-world practical applications: such as how make good food choices from office vending machines, and how to exercise while traveling.

    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

     
    2.0

    The Paleo Diet for Data Geeks

    By Hannes Reich-Jobecker

    from Germany

    About Me Developer

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        • Novice

        Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

        If you are looking for fitness for _computer_ geeks, this book is not it. It doesn't have chapters on the pros and dangers of standing desks, or discussions of office exercises, for example. My darling app "F.lux" gets a brief mention in a sidebar, but that's it.

        The 'geek' part is more about measuring your sleep quality, blood pressure, gym progress... but I'm not a data geek, so I mostly skipped through these chapters.

        The other big part of the book is its endorsement of the Paleo diet and lifestyle. In my opinion, it comes across as an axiomatic belief - we should always do as our remote ancestors did. But geeks are allergic to axiomatic beliefs, and to make matters worse, this one doesn't even help the book a lot. We should move more and we should eat unprocessed food, but did we really need an archeologist for this? Everything healthy beyond that either magically aligns with Paleo, or doesn't (but is still healthy).

        I enjoyed other chapters though, e.g. those about fasting and hormesis. I couldn't make a lot of sense of the imperial units, but that's what I get for reading foreign books :)

        (8 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

         
        2.0

        Crying Uncle

        By Craig M.

        from Michigan

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Interesting

        Cons

        • Skeptical claims
        • Specious

        Best Uses

          Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

          tried to like this book.

          About three chapters in, I decided this book wasn't for me. From indirectly talking about people's auras after working out, to indirectly recommending paleo diets, this book just hit my woo-woo trigger one too many times. I enjoyed the discussion about different sites for tracking fitness, but when push came to shove about nutrition and such, I felt like I was spending more time on the web trying to verify every little piece of information in this book. I felt like I was reading the equivalent of an infomercial for something that will be thoroughly debunked in ten years.

          I was really hoping this book would be something I could enjoy reading without having to be too critical, but this book isn't it.

          (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          3.0

          Some interesting health advice

          By Peter

          from Melbourne

          About Me Developer

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Easy to understand
          • Well-written

          Cons

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            • Novice

            Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

            The book includes sections on nutrition, eating habits, exercise, sleeping and other lifestyle decisions.

            Many of the principles advocated in this book mirror those of the "paleo" movement, which is based on the diet and exercise patterns of humans from the paleolithic age. The theory is that the human body hasn't had time to adapt to the modern life.

            The author begins by describing why the human body is not well suited to the modern life. Sitting around all day eating a diet high in saturated fat is less than optimal. Makes sense.

            The next section covers nutrition. This section of the book is informative and well written, first covering the "macronutrients" – carbohydrates, protein and fat, before moving onto vitamins and micronutrients. All very interesting and useful. Many useful resources are provided for analyzing what you eat and assessing your diet.

            Next is a chapter promoting an idea not heard too often – the health benefits of fasting for significant periods. It's an interesting idea – usual dietary advice is to have a good breakfast; this chapter advocates skipping breakfast.

            The book progresses to exercise and the author recommends intense, short workouts – he cites the Tabata workout. Also recommended is variety in exercise regimes by using systems like crossfit.

            The section on resistance training was good, however much of the fitness advice is simply the preference of the author and doesn't seem to be based on any particular best practice.

            This book reminded me of "The Four Hour Body", which was primarily a book of ideas to investigate further, rather than advice provided by an expert in the field. Both books lack the scientific rigour to back up much of the supplied "wisdom".

            The connection to "geeks" was tenuous. For example in the section on sleep, there was, inexplicably, a page of source code to connect to the Zeo sleep monitor. A variety of gadgets for health tracking were reviewed in the book.

            The sections on nutrition and resistance training were great, sometimes the rest felt a little patchy.

            (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Documentation for your Fitness API

            By Roy

            from Cary, NC

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Accurate
            • Concise
            • Easy to understand
            • Helpful examples

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                Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

                I've been pining for a better fitness regime for most of the past decade, so being able to read Bruce Perry's new Fitness for Geeks book through the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program was a welcome treat. From the outset, Perry uses a diverse array of studies to emphasize what many of us have known in back of our mind but have chosen to ignore: An active lifestyle combined with a proper diet is a prerequisite for optimal health. Since working in front of a computer all day is a reality many geeks face, the book reminds us early and often that evolution did not select our species for this kind of continuously-sedentary activity. However, because fitness is such a nebulous concept, it's hard to know where to start or what information to trust. Fitness for Geeks addresses this inertia by collecting and putting a lot of that information in a single place, making it easier to construct a meaningful fitness plan and, more importantly, to act upon it.

                Overall, the tone and style of the book is in line with what I was looking for: A dispassionate description of how our bodies work with regards to fitness and health. Much like other forms of technical documentation, which have to be comprehensive yet concise, Perry's book covers all angles of the fitness equation, including everything from food chemistry and Tabata sprints to protein synthesis and the latest tracking apps for measuring our progress. When it comes to recommendations for diet and exercise, Perry seems to keep the advice grounded in what the relevant scientific articles tell us. While those who are already hooked into the low-carb/paleo mindset may find the food chapters more review than revelation, the book's other chapters on micronutrients and exercise are quite useful on their own. Of particular interest to me was the chapter on intermittent fasting: Originally I had dismissed the concept as unhealthy (based in part on my reading of the Steve Jobs biography), but it turns out that our hunter-gatherer ancestry lends itself to the practice.

                The few criticisms I have with the book are mostly nitpicks. The nutrition chapters seem a little heavy on details (but like any documentation, the information is there if I ever need it). Perry also uses a few too many generic tech analogies in the book that border on the cliche (talking about "RESTful programmers" when discussing sleep patterns will only make the book seem prematurely outdated in the future). Finally, Chapter 1's motivational 'day in the life of a fit geek', where Perry describes the benefits of a fitness-focused lifestyle (complete with increased attractiveness to potential partners!) felt a little patronizing, even though that wasn't the intention. In my mind, the reader has picked up the book because they're looking to correct a fitness deficit in their life—no need to accentuate the matter by providing a play-by-play of how great it is on the other side.

                Nitpicks aside, I foresee referring to Fitness for Geeks quite often when crafting and revising my fitness routines. While it's enjoyable enough to read from cover to cover, the book stands out when used as a first-stop quick reference for any fitness-related questions one may have. Having properly-researched information at hand can be a motivational force in its own right, so I recommend the book for anyone looking to get started with or improve their fitness regimen.

                (A quick word on ePub formatting: Although a quick glance at the PDF shows that this book was designed for print and looks its best in that format, the ePub was also designed with readability in mind. The sidebars and interviews that appear throughout the book are formatted in a different font size to make them distinct from the main text, while "Note" boxes retain a visual box around them. I read the vast majority of the book in ePub format to take advantage of the iPad's highlighting capabilities and nighttime white-on-black reading mode, and everything flowed well.)

                (2 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Create Your Fitness Plan Enjoy Reading

                By Hartley the editor

                from Lyndonville, VT

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Accurate
                • Concise
                • Easy to understand
                • Helpful examples
                • Reference URLs
                • Well-written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Choose ideas to adopt
                  • Create your plan
                  • Expert
                  • Intermediate
                  • Novice
                  • Student

                  Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

                  I recommend that you buy this book because it is interesting reading, and because the World Health Organization has said, "Lifestyle-orientated diseases will cost the global economy $30 trillion over the next 20 years." We do not want to be a contributor to this cost.

                  Fitness for Geeks tells us that our mental and physical operating systems evolved over millions of years to be hunters and gathers. Very recently we have adopted TV and computers, and have become a nation of chair sitters. Fitness for Geeks gives us the information we need to decide what to do about it.

                  Fitness for Geeks is clearly written and easy to understand. Use it as a guide to much more web based data and information. Use Fitness for Geeks and the web to get tools to measure your fitness and to track and chart your progress. "What gets measured gets managed."

                  Learn about: Fitness tools and web based apps. Food chemistry basics and how much major diets differ. Micronutrients and fake food. Finding and choosing food. Food timing and when to fast. The other world outside. The gym. Randomizing fitness and R & R. Human fueling and supplements. And, lifestyle hacks for fitness.

                  You will find many interesting things while reading this book, like why a midwinter plunge may be good for you, and how fasting may be helpful in fighting cancer.

                  Here is one Fitness for Geeks recommendation we all can use, "When you get stuck with a computer problem, go outside. A brisk walk helps almost every time."

                  I asked for a review copy of Fitness for Geeks because I was interested in seeing what it was like, and I wanted it for our Macintosh user group raffle, After reviewing it, I bought a digital copy for myself.

                  (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  4.0

                  A whole lot of information and science

                  By jsuda

                  from Rochester NY

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Comprehensive
                  • Lots of information

                  Cons

                  • Could use more focus

                  Best Uses

                  • Expert
                  • For serious fitness folk

                  Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

                  Fitness for Geeks

                  You would think that geeks would be as interested in fitness as dogs are of TV. After all, geeks already put in hours of finger dancing on keyboards, assembling hefty code fragments, and juggling PHP programming functions.

                  Although intended, in part, as a guide to real physical fitness the book, "Fitness for Geeks," entices geeks with what they are really interested in–the science of fitness, nutrition, and exercise. In 11 chapters over 311 pages (including notes and an index) author, Bruce W Perry, describes in great detail the science of fitness and all of its components–food selections, timings, and fastings; exercising of all types; sleep, rest, and meditation; the benefits of hormesis (shocking the body with stresses); and the benefits of natural sunlight.

                  One of the major themes is respect for ancestral behaviors relating to fitness, as he sees the human body as having built-in "software" (biological and physiological "pathways") regulating its needs for certain foods and nutrients, its affinities for sprinting and intermittent fasting, and a preference for sunlight. These behaviors were evolutionary-based adaptations to their environment which in some ways was much more physically stressful than ours is now.

                  He argues that modern humans have gotten way too far away from their ancestral roots at the expense of their health and fitness. They would be better served by committing to behaviors which are modeled after those of our distant predecessors. That means large doses of natural sunlight, exercise programs emphasizing high demand tasks like sprinting, food selections high in quality fats and proteins and low in processed foods and sugars, and intermittent fastings.

                  In other words, channel your inner caveman.

                  He supports his thesis with reference to hundreds of scientific studies. However, he doesn't sufficiently explain why modern human lifespans are so much longer than that of the ancients despite diets high in Twinkies, exercise defined as walking down the hall to the Coke machine, and light exposure limited to LCD illumination.

                  While the major interest of the book for geeks is in the science, Mr. Perry is also advocating real improvement in personal health and fitness. The author is a software engineer and computer-topic writer and also a serious runner, biker, and outdoor enthusiast. He seems to be a very intense proponent of maximum personal fitness both as an instructor and personally where he tracks and measures nearly every physical thing he does during the day. He monitors and measures macro nutritional ratios (carbohydrates, fats, proteins); micro nutritional consumption levels (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals); exercise metrics like energy use (Metabolic Equivalents of Tasks--MET's); the times, rhythms, and patterns of exercise program elements; and more.

                  Like a serious geek, he uses all the latest and greatest hardware and software tools to monitor and measure including GPS devices, motion detectors, smart phone apps of all kinds, and web-based trackers and analyzers. He describes many of the features of apps like FitBit, Endomondo, Fitocracy, and Garmin Connect, including screenshots of configurations, data charts, result pages, and comparison charts. He highlights use of web-based databases especially the nutritional information available at the USDA National Nutrient Database.

                  Mr. Perry also throws in a bit of food and food marketing politics as he emphasizes buying from local food suppliers, or even better, growing your own food and hunting your evening's meal. He shuns supermarket products, for the most part, even providing strategies on how best to navigate the typical mega markets to avoid being psychologically and emotionally manipulated by marketing techniques which attempt to get the consumer to buy more than they need, pricier items, and the latest junk foods they happen to be promoting that week.

                  Mr. Perry is one serious guy!

                  I don't think that he is a typical health-concerned person or even a typical geek, although he is an independent spirit with great curiosity about things he's interested in. He seems to be serious about fitness to an idiosyncratic degree. In addition to all of the monitoring and measuring, he experiments with up to four different fasting strategies, goes for cold water swims, and does a variety of push-ups while waiting for boarding at the airport.

                  His book, I think, would appeal primarily to serious health freaks or competitive athletes who have the time and need to micromanage their eating, sleeping, and physical activities, and later analyzing all of the accumulated data.

                  The author writes knowledgeably and comprehensively about his topics and provides a lot of detail, especially on the tracking and measuring apps. He includes a handful of sidebar interviews with nutritional and fitness experts, some photos and graphics, and tosses in a few code references like anti-patterns and the random function, among others. What isn't in the book is referenced to websites containing more specific information, data, and videos.

                  Although he sprinkles some personal anecdotes and humor into the writing, overall, the book, while well organized, is a slow, often mind jumbling read. There is almost too much information, too many options to try out for some activities, and not enough focus. It will not win any literary awards. To some readers, it may be sort of like reading lab reports.

                  A lot of geeks like reading lab reports and there is a sufficient number of competitive athletes and health fanatics who'll find this book quite valuable and interesting.

                  (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Quirky, Original and Brilliant

                  By shawnday

                  from dublin, ireland

                  About Me Designer, Developer, Educator

                  Verified Reviewer

                  Pros

                  • Accurate
                  • Concise
                  • Easy to understand
                  • Helpful examples
                  • Well-written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Expert
                    • Intermediate
                    • Novice
                    • Student

                    Comments about oreilly Fitness for Geeks:

                    This is first and foremost a simply fun book! It takes an holistic approach to fitness from the perspective of appreciating the science and process of fitness. It is fun, but it also seriously thoughtful and obtains a wealth of vast and varied aspects that will appeal to all. As the author states, 'this is a book about fitness and nutrition for the independent of spirit and irrepressibly curious.' I heartily agree.
                    A greatly enjoy­able read. Highly recommended!

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