20 Minutes That Can Change Your Life

The New York Times posted a book review entitled “The Shortcut to Better Health,” and an interview with the author. The book is called “The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer,’’ and is written by New York Times columnist Gretchen Reynolds.

While I haven’t read the book, it was refreshing to read this interview, where Gretchen Reynolds talks about the benefits of moving just a little bit more than we currently do. Our culture is so obsessed with appearances, it feels like we are bombarded with fad diets suggesting that we must try the next big thing to achieve the perfect body – one week it’s eating only grapefruits or drinking apple cider vinegar before a meal, and the next week it’s eating only bacon double cheeseburgers – without the bun, of course.

It was refreshing to read that the advice in this book calls for simply going for a twenty minute walk. The American obsession with weight loss, fueled by the unattainable images that we are bombarded with daily in the media and in Hollywood, have led people to follow some extreme measures to try and reach this ideal.

I think that the proliferation of these extreme diets and exercise programs have intimidated a lot of people, who think that they could never accomplish what is required in these regimens. It seems that many people feel that they will not be able to commit to the extreme  requirements, so they think why do anything? This book appears to promote a sensible strategy for achieving fitness that any person can start today. In fact, this is a sensible fitness strategy that is so old, it is new again!

I am fortunate that I have a little four-legged friend who requires that I move, at least a little, every day. In fact, he is looking at me right now to ask when we are going for a walk. Now that is welcome pressure!

What do you think about this idea? Do you think that people avoid starting an exercise regimen because they feel that they will not follow through? Do you think that promoting the idea that a twenty minute walk can make a meaningful difference in a person’s health could encourage more people to move a little more? Do you think that this strategy is not enough to make a difference for people’s health?   


Filed under Fitness, Health, social pressures

6 responses to “20 Minutes That Can Change Your Life

  1. I think a lot of advice about how to live more healthily does not not take into account the complex and sometimes irrational reasons why people do what they do. For example, people like to feel they are in control of their own health (and lives and destiny, etc.) So they don’t like to hear cautious, measured advice about health. They (we) like to hear vast, sweeping claims about whatever health claim. They (we) don’t like to hear things will take effort, but are free. That will almost certainly make us devalue the advice. We value advice that is expensive but otherwise effort-free. Foolish us! But there it is.

    • Hi Karl! You are sso right. If something is not expensive, we don’t think it is valuable! It’s kind of like you small packaging comment earlier. Maybe we can start charging people to take walks! Thanks for the comment and for reading!

      • Karl

        I was going to suggest that instead of charging people for walks, we could write one of those books with a picture of a thin smiling person on the front. But thinking about it more, it seems to me those books aren’t supposed to change behavior. They are really about selling more books. You are supposed to buy into the promise (Eat Yourself Thin! The Belly Fat Cure!), be disappointed, then buy another book.

        How did we all learn we are supposed to brush our teeth twice a day? In first grade? Maybe we could approach it that way. Or ask health professionals to start suggesting exercise early on. All those things which we already knew about. :-/

  2. I think you’re right. But maybe it needs to be incorporated more as a simple, fun part of being alive instead of a chore that has to be accomplished. Companies should have play breaks or yoga breaks – I guess some do now. It would be interesting to see the health outcomes of those types of programs. Meanwhile, some schools are cutting out recess, which seems to be taking us in the opposite direction.

  3. So much to say. In short, we’re pressured to sit and do very little by our jobs and leisure choices. Few people take the time to get a good sweat and move more. It’s quite literally making us sicker. Those small choices to do more physically are the first steps to achieving better health. My personal belief (creed?) is that the healthier you are, the bigger your world becomes. We can choose to live sedentary, live small and live short. Or we can embrace the vigor of physical activity and watch our world grow, our lives grow. Thanks for posting!

    • So true! Our workplaces and professions do not encourage movement at all! In fact, they discourage it by creating expectations that we sit at a computer all day. In the past, I have been a bit of an all or nothing type when it comes to exercise. I played team sports in school, and appreciated the structure that provided. It is much harder for me to get off the couch when it is a choice. I seem to need to have some event I am training for. I used to want to want to be fit just for the sake of being fit, instead of to prepare for a race, but I have decided that if I need to have a goal to stay on track, that is OK. But I do like the concept in this book that doing things I love, like walking the dog – or even better, bagging quandry peak – can help me get fit as well. Thanks for your comment and for the follow!

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