I can hardly believe I actually read a book entirely about exercise.
Even more surprising is that I really loved this book about exercise, so much in fact that I keep trying to get everyone I know to talk about it with me.
I am no athlete. Just typing the word athlete makes me want to go take a nap. And have a snack. Those are my only thoughts on being athletic.
I have never really even been interested in exercise either. I have exercised, but not because I loved it and never with any regularity. Exercise is something I forced myself to do to aid in weight loss after my pregnancies and during a few self-improvement phases I took some yoga classes, but that is about the extent of my exercise history. It’s been brief.
Considering my level of interest and limited experience with exercise, I have absolutely no idea why I read this book! But, I am so glad I did. Though I am sure that well trained athletes and fitness lovers will enjoy this book and find useful advice, tips, and research to draw from, this book is also clearly for the couch potato too.
This book was a lightning bolt for me and completely changed the way I think about exercise. Not only am I exercising, but I’m enjoying it and even looking forward to it! If you know me, then you will know that this is a big deal. I am the laziest person I know, really and truly. I will always always always choose reading a book in bed if given the choice. Watching every episode of Gilmore Girls for the third time would be a close second. And I don’t own exercise clothes and I don’t like to shower every single day and I am the world’s most uncoordinated person.
Then I read this book and it just blew me away. Maybe everyone else in the world already knew this, but I finally understand that exercise isn’t just for losing weight (in fact the science shows that exercise alone does very little to help anyone lose weight). My biggest takeaway from The First 20 Minutes is that we need exercise to be happier, to feel better, to think better, and to live longer. This book completely changed my mind about exercise and before I’d even made it to the last chapter, I was seeing exercise as something that I wanted to do, something that I get to do, instead of something that I should do.
Gretchen Reynolds’ writing style makes for a fun and easy read even though the book is packed with science and facts and research. It’s also a book for both men and women. Many of the exercise studies done have used young male test subjects, but Reynolds went out of her way to find research for women too. Plus, I enjoyed lovely little bits like this:
There was no girls’ cross-country team at our high school, since cross-country courses were two or three miles long, and, at that distance, a girl’s uterus could fall out.
The First 20 Minutes also tells you just how little activity you can get away with, which made my little couch potato self quite happy. Turns out, walking or working out lightly for 150 minutes a week is good enough. Lifting a little weight every week will also totally change your life. And even more interestingly, almost all of the mortality reductions are due to the first 20 minutes of exercise, which drops your risk of premature death by 20%.
So, here’s the thing, exercise doesn’t have to be hard. That right there was a light bulb for me. And it’s a good thing too, because Gretchen also did a pretty good job of convincing me that as a human, I am born to move and moving with consistency is essential for a happy, healthy, productive life. Exercise even makes you smarter. (And your kids too! Just 20 minutes of walking before a test raised children’s scores, even if the children were otherwise unfit or overweight.) So, I’m moving, and it’s already turned into more than just 150 minutes a week because I’m actually loving it – something I never, ever thought would be possible.
This morning, on a Saturday no less, I got my kids up early and we went for a 2 mile jog/walk together. They loved it and so did I and I think it’s the beginning of a new thing for us, a really good thing.
Get the book, read the book, then take a walk – just for fun.
If people want to be healthier and prolong their life span, all they really need to do is go for a walk. It’s the single easiest thing anyone can do. […] Just move, because it really can be so easy, and it really can change your life.