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Friday, May 17, 2013

The First Twenty Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer– by Gretchen Reynolds

The First Twenty Minutes is a reference to the minimum length of time from which benefits can be derived from a given bout of exercise. If the exercise is of a high enough intensity, that’s all you may need to derive maximal physical benefits for general health and well-being.  This is excellent news as the vast majority of people who don’t regularly exercise abstain from physical activity because they claim that they “just don’t have time.” But trust me, those people will move on to some other excuse for not exercising believe me, they will.  Because if you don’t have the time to change clothes, drive to the gym, navigate a parking space, warm-up, train, cool down, make your way back home, shower, and then eat- to-win, a 20 minute in-home workout should seem like a cake walk by comparison. But that’s another issue…

Gretchen Reynolds is the author of The First Twenty Minutes and in this book she does examine how we can exercise better, train smarter, and live longer.  There are some fascinating
concepts in this book by the New York Times “Phys Ed” column writer.  An athlete herself, Reynolds looks at the most recent research available in the field of exercise science and reports on topics such as how twenty minutes of cardio at a time is enough to obtain the maximum health benefits, how stretching before a workout is counterproductive (a highly controversial idea), how core strength is nice but not necessary (definitely not something I agree with), how walking improves your memory and housecleaning improves your mood, and other little-known facts about fitness (most of which I do agree with.)

As has been the case for years, there are plenty of experts who will agreed with these positions and many who don’t.  Yes, Gretchen’s contentions are backed by science but as with any author/researcher, many times studies can be sited to support a given theory while there are other respected scientists with opposing opinions who do not support the author’s foregone conclusion. In other words, it can be sometimes be easy to “cherry pick’ information and studies that support one’s beliefs or “hunches” and report that as evidence to confirm one point of view while research that supports the opposing point of view is never included in the discussion.  One could make a case for just such an idea concerning how stretching before a workout is counterproductive.  I don’t agree with this and I know that there are studies that contradict this belief (when placed in the appropriate exercise context.)

Nevertheless, I agree with the vast majority of the answers to common exercise-related questions that Gretchen Reynolds reports on in this book.  The book IS well-researched, well-quoted, and well-written.  It’s an easy read and it helps confirm much of what those of us who study exercise science have known for years while for some, this information is new.  Whether new news or confirming “old” news, it’s pretty exciting.

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Fitness expert and strength coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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