The 20-Minute Rule That Will Change Your Health

exercise made easy

“Humans are born to stroll,” writes Gretchen Reynolds in her new book, The First 20 Minutes.

Now, that’s my kind of exercise book.

Considering her background—Reynolds is a veteran health and fitness reporter who has contributed to Runner’s World, Outside, and Bicycling and writes the popular “Phys Ed” column for the New York Times—you might expect the book to be geared toward uber-fit marathon runners and century riders. Instead, Reynolds uses the knowledge gained from her decades of covering fitness to highlight some surprisingly simple ways to be healthy, such as:

Stand up. “If you can stand up every 20 minutes, even if you do nothing else, you change how your body responds physiologically,” Reynolds told Terri Gross on the NPR program, “Fresh Air.” “You start using the big muscles in your legs, which helps break up fat in your bloodstream; it decreases your chances of getting diabetes and heart disease.” (Read more about the benefits of standing up.)

Just get moving. “The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits,” Reynolds said in the New York Times. “You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk—all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.”

For more of Reynolds’ thoughts on fitness myths, easy ways to get moving and more, check out her interview with Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times blog, “Well,” here.

© Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Thinkstock

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.