The 20-Minute Rule That Will Change Your Health

By Beth Dreher
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.

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