The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer

By | November 20, 2018

Every Wednesday, Gretchen Reynolds singlehandedly influences how millions of Americans work out. In her Phys Ed column for The New York Times, she debunks myths, spurs conversation, and creates arguments among her readers by questioning widely held beliefs about exercise.

Expanding upon her popular columns, Reynolds tackles the questions we all have and (sometimes) ask about exercise. Consulting experts in physiology, biology, psychology, neurology, and sports, she uncovers how often we should exercise, how long workouts should be, how to avoid injury, and how to find the right form, routine, and equipment for our goals.

She also reveals some surprising answers, like:

  • 20 minutes of cardio at a time is enough to obtain maximum health benefits. (And in some cases, just six minutes is all you need.)*
  • Stretching before a workout is counterproductive. (It’s better to just start easy, i.e., walk before you run.)
  • Core strength is nice but not necessary. (A six-pack looks great but actually has little bearing on performance.)
  • Walking improves your memory; housecleaning improves your mood. (The brain is like a muscle – it likes to exercise.)
  • Chocolate milk is better than Gatorade for recovery. (Providing the best sports nutrition is often the simplest.)
  • Drawing on scientific expertise as well as her own athletic experiences, Gretchen Reynolds will help you find the right workout for your body, age, fitness and goals. Whether your desire is to be fit for the rest of your life, to look great in a smaller dress size, or to run your third marathon in Boston,
    The First 20 Minutes will make your workouts work for you.

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    3 Comments

    Anonymous on 11/20/2018 at 02:12.

    Clearly explains why inactivity is the greatest threat to our health Very good book. The style is a little wordy for me. Similar to ‘The Power of Yoga’, I’d have preferred to have more bullet points and less history of scientific discoveries. Therefore, I summarized the key points myself:1) Inactivity is the greatest public health threat of this century. A great deal of the physical effects that we once thought were caused by aging are actually the results of inactivity.2) Although ‘Health’ and ‘Fitness’ are often automatically joined…

    Anonymous on 11/20/2018 at 02:31.

    Explodes many “truths” about exercise While this book contains some suggested exercises at the end of each chapter, that isn’t what it’s about. What we get is a somewhat rambling discourse about the state of current exercise research. This is written by a New York Times writer, so lacks the rah-rah cheerleading present in most exercise books. Ms. Reynolds shares her personal experience with exercise, mainly running, as well as research and conversations with researchers. In doing so, she shines the spotlight on much recognized…

    Anonymous on 11/20/2018 at 02:39.

    This book may not change your life, but it might just make you change it yourself Some people say that this books only repeats the stuff “everyone knows” about exercising; I disagree. Of course, there’s stuff that validates the things you think you know about stuff like weight loss, the benefits working out has on your heart and lungs, etc., but there’s also a lot of honestly surprising information about how your body responds to working out, its effects on aging, memory and even DNA, and many other things. I read some reviews complaining that the book was too…

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