Book Review: Eat Move Sleep

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Author: Tom Rath
Publisher: Missionday Publisher
Book Publication: 2013

What do you do if you’ve just received a devastating diagnosis of a rare genetic condition that leads to cancerous growths throughout your body? If you are writer and avid researcher Tom Rath (Gallup senior scientist and prolific business author, Strength-Based Leadership, Strengthfinder 2.0) you search for answers in medical journals, scientific studies, and volumes of research to learn about specific things to do to extend your odds of living a bit longer. He shares his findings in a book he calls Eat Move Sleep. As he has discovered, the key to having a longer, healthier life revolves around the choices you make about what you eat, how often you move throughout the day, and the quality of your sleep. These, he says, are far more important than your genes or family history.

The book features 30 chapters, with various themes discussing research-based findings and three practical tips or ideas to personally implement those findings. In the chapter entitled ‘Energy’, Rath discusses the relationship between food and mood, citing fatty foods as an example of one type of ‘food’ that can make you lethargic and moody. He also points to research showing that higher levels of physical activity are consistently related to greater brain volume, and studies suggesting regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep. His quick tips at the end of the chapter include:

  • “Before you order a heavy lunch, consider whether you can afford the hangover that afternoon.”
  • “When your brain is filled with new information to remember, or when you need a burst of creativity, go for a walk.”
  • “If you’re having trouble sleeping, try exercising for a few days before you resort to sleep medication.”

Here are just a few more of the many compelling findings, and helpful ideas from Eat Move Sleep:

  • Reduce intake of carbohydrates: “Set a goal of eating foods that have a ratio of one gram of carbs for every one gram of proteins.”
  • “Sugar is a toxin…if you lower your sugar intake, you reduce the odds of cancer.”
  • Try a new microactivity like taking the stairs or parking far away from the door of your home or office.
  • Emerging science suggests that consuming broccoli can alter the way your genes are expressed, thus playing a powerful role in preventing everything from cancer to heart disease.
  • Exercising in a natural outdoor environment yields more benefit than indoor workouts.
  • Having another person holding you accountable is a great way to get into, and stay in, shape.
  • One way to shed pounds (more than 14 pounds over a year) is to replace an hour of television with an hour of sleep.

Some of what Rath writes might seem like just one man’s opinion. However, he meticulously documents the research behind his statements. In fact, the book includes over 400 annotations, and on the book’s website you will find a very helpful ‘Reference Explorer’ ( where all the studies and articles referred to in the book are listed and linked.

This book is well written, diligently researched, and easy to read and absorb. The inclusion of the three tips at the end of each chapter, and the ‘Eat Move Sleep First 30 Day Challenge’ helps to motivate, and reinforces the book’s theme – small changes, big results.

Some criticism has been directed at the book, suggesting its content is unnecessarily repetitive, merely common sense, and that it has no real new information to offer. While there is some truth to this, Rath does a remarkable job of condensing and documenting a vast amount of research, making Eat Move Sleep a great tool to improve your health I.Q., and an invaluable ally in the daily struggle to make the healthier choice.

No single act can prevent cancer or guarantee you will live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life, but in Eat Move Sleep you will find specific, creative, and insightful strategies to improve your odds.



Susannah Kent is a Toronto area Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle Instructor.

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