Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer” as Want to Read:
The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  2,217 ratings  ·  390 reviews

A cutting-edge prescription for exercise by the New York Times "Phys Ed" columnist
At one point or another, nearly every person who works out wonders: Am I doing this right? Which class is best? Do I work out enough? Answering those questions and more, "The First 20 Minutes" helps both weekend warriors dedicated to their performance and readers who simply want to get and s
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Penguin Group USA, Inc
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The First 20 Minutes, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The First 20 Minutes

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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 together, they are differen
This is a very entertaining and informative book about the benefits of exercise. Gretchen Reynolds explores how much, and what types of exercise are really useful for improving one's health and well-being. The more you exercise (up to a point), the better one's fitness. However, there is a law of diminishing returns--you can exercise a little--say 20 minutes a day--and get a significant benefit. or you can exercise a lot, and get just a tiny bit more improvement.

The later chapters in the book we
Gayle Fleming
I heard Gretchen Reynolds on NPR and bought the book immediately. As a sixty-four year old woman who ran a marathon at fifty and cycled 334 miles in three days at fifty-five, this book has just been a wealth if new scientific insights on fitness and health. I really appreciate that while many of the research studies are done on young male athletes, she has gone out of her way to find studies on older non-athletes and women. The information on exercise and weight loss was particularly useful and ...more
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Whether you've never exercised in your life or you're a professional, competitive sportsperson this is a must read.

Exercise helps depression, reduces the negative effects of stress, anxiety, and anger, encouraging a calmer and happier disposition, and makes you smarter from better blood flow to the brain, enhances memory and general brain functioning (neurogenesis). A difference can be seen 6-8 weeks after starting regular exercise. It's also the ultimate anti-aging solution, preventing frailty
Teresa Slack
I wanted to start a new exercise regimen so I picked up this book for inspiration. Unless you've been in a coma since grade school and have learned nothing new in the ensuing decades about fitness, everything within these pages and its never ending paragraphs will give you no updated information. I even checked the publication date to see if The First Twenty Minutes had been released several years ago. Nope, it's a new release.

I would love to copy and paste any paragraph at random from the book
Perci N.
"Inactivity is the greatest public health threat of this century. And it is almost completely preventable."

Picked up and finished this book this morning. Read it mostly while standing or pacing. It's the best non-fiction I've read in years, because it repeatedly shows me that I'm doing it wrong, that society is doing it wrong, and how to fix that and stop sucking ass at life.

The most fit I've been in my entire life was in my early 20's when I was paid to dance 6-7 nights of the week, easily 20+
Jud Barry
The title makes it sound like the kind of ad you'll see on google or facebook (or even goodreads?), the kind that begs you to click through so you can see how a "weird tip" will cause you to "cut flab," and that you learned long ago never to follow because the promise of a quick answer is always false. Always.

So, bad title maybe, but hey, you've already got the book (ideally, it's a library copy), so why not click through? The result is more than a promise kept. Yes, it discusses numerous ways i
At first I was impressed at how many scientific studies the author relied on, but as I read on, page after page of animal torture just left me feeling disgusted and depressed. If you are someone who cares about animals at all: DON'T READ THIS BOOK. I wish some of the other reviews here had warned me about it!

There is also NO BIBLIOGRAPHY, which I find incredibly suspect given the author's extreme reliance on so many scientific studies/papers to support her book. Lastly, her book seems to be wri
this book was filled with bad jokes and extended descriptions of recent exercise studies that would end with "what does this mean for you? probably nothing." awesome. awkwardly written, full of unnecessary information, and totally unclear who the target audience was -- if this was a book for beginners (as it seemed to be) why include so many studies that pertained information admittedly only relevant to ulta-athletes? the last chapter talked about how periods of exercise throughout the day make ...more
I loved this! For one thing, Gretchen Reynolds is quite funny and down to earth. She amuses me going on about how slow a runner she is (which I don't really believe but I appreciate the self-deprecating tone). There were plenty of things I already knew (stretching before a work out is pointless) but a lot of things that I really didn't (ice baths are pointless and so is massage - physiologically). There were also some comforting things (I'm never going to be flexible; I couldn't sit cross-legged ...more
Reynolds has a straightforward writing style - matter-of-fact, perfect for a book about science and health. She looks at many common and ubiquitous beliefs about exercise, training, sports nutrition and uses science to either disprove or reinforce them. Chapters tackle big subjects like the importance of warm-ups, whether or not stretching before a workout really does anything, the "myth" of dehydration, etc. She covers a lot of ground - using case studies of athletes and their trainers, as well ...more
This is a book about exercise and living a life with a body that is as healthy as possible until your last decade. How to be as self-sufficient and healthy from age 20 to age 120. I learned much about the benefits of exercise until you take your last breath! Even if you are in your seventh or eighth decade you can begin to exercise and get big benefits that will make everyday life more enjoyable.

This book does a great job covering many exercise related topics. The first half of the book address
I can't tell you how much this book has changed my thinking about exercise. I have always exercised, played soccer, running. I knew that I did it to maintain my weight and keep my mood up. I had little idea that I was also working my mind. I am adding years to my life. I have been so inspired. I took my bike into the shop this week. I started swimming again. I look so differently at exercise now. I am buying this book for my parents so that they too can see that just moving their bodies, 30 minu ...more
As a friend told me, probably only those who already believe in the value of exercise will read this book, but if others do read it, I think it is one of the best I have read to convince us all that we need to spend more time off the couch. The author has collected a great deal of research that goes into all aspects of exercise, discussing nutrition as it relates to fitness, injury prevention, and the impact of exercise on mental health, quality of life, and longevity. The book is well written, ...more
Mark Gray
An excellent book for anyone who is undertaking exercise or seriously thinking about starting. I certainly learnt loads of new things
Comments based on advanced reader’s copy. I am an experienced distance runner and former competitive athlete. This is by far the best RATIONAL book about exercise and fitness. The author is a NY Times columnist and she assembles, in a very readable format, quality scientific evidence based elements related to, diet, exercise, fitness, and athletic performance. Forget the money you spend on a personal trainer, exercise equipment, and over-priced crap from charlatans and buy this book when it come ...more
This is one of the best books about fitness I have ever read -- and I have read a bunch of them.

Most of them are full of baloney. Or, to be more accurate, have some good info mixed with a lot of foolishness.

Gretchen Reynolds, however, has distilled the most evidence-based research on the subject of how to exercise most efficiently and effectively as well as how to eat and drink while exercising. Hint: It's not with Gatorade or other special concoctions.
Wonderful book full of anecdotes and overview of different studies on the impact of exercise on health and longevity. The upshot is familiar to those familiar with this genre. Running is best - good for both physical and mental health. Strength training is useful, esp as you grow older. Don't worry so much about eating well or drinking fluids prior to or during a workout unless you are going for a long one (i.e. over an hour or two). Warm up by getting blood and movement into those muscles that ...more
Everything we thought we knew about fitness and nutrition is wrong. But that probably won’t surprise most people, as we’re all quite accustomed now with the latest research trumping the “truth” as we learned it. Basically, you should keep moving and not buy into the sedentary lifestyle that so many of us have adopted – this will improve your health, your happiness, and stave off what we used to think were the inevitable effects of old age (loss of muscle tone, bone density, and brain function). ...more

A sample of her writing.

Review and Q&A re book

This book took me a long time to read and although I didn't find the writing quality exceptional or the content consistently interesting, I feel it deserves a five. This is based on the evidence based information found here and the likelihood that the reader with find something worthwhile, motivational and practical to put to use.

Fun Facts:(to remind me in the future
I don't usually read exercise books and I'm no fitness buff, but I picked this up after it was recommended in one of my science magazines, as a good evidence based book on health. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe a book with a 20-minute exercise programs or something, but there's actually very little in the way of recommended exercise routines. Each chapter is broken up into broad health themes (aging, flexibility, fat burning, etc) and within the chapter are synopses of the latest studi ...more
This book was not in my queue or even on my radar, but I picked it up off of the "lucky day" shelf at the library because it looked interesting. What a find! As soon as I started it I knew it was my type of book weaving together two of my favorite things - analysis and athletics. If you like Malcolm Gladwell you will enjoy this book. In the same style as Gladwell, Reynolds takes massive amounts of data, studies, and research and makes it relevant, accessible, and so compelling. This book debunks ...more
I'm a regular distance runner and I occasionally read Gretchen Reynolds' contributions to the Well Blog at the New York Times. There was much about the book that I enjoyed and some that I hated. My 3 stars average a 1 and a 5, because I think it represented the best and the worst of the science of exercise.

The best: the book showed the importance of any kind of physical activity (even light activity for the First 20 Minutes) for increased lifespan and improved cognitive ability. It gave excellen
Oct 29, 2013 Trena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who inhabits a body
Reynolds reviews the most current exercise science literature to come up with a quick, engaging read for people interested in fitness, or looking for motivation to get there; I highly recommend this to just about everyone. The title comes from good news studies that show you begin to benefit from physical activity with as little as 20 minutes per week--and this doesn't mean 20 minutes of all-out sprinting, it just means 20 minutes of moving your body even in ordinary activities like walking or g ...more
Read this book. Now. This is easily one of the best self-improvement/exercise/health books I've read. The author cites countless research studies (not all of them are equally rigorous, but they are academic and reputable), but just when it starts to feel a little tedious (and it will), she synthesizes the findings into a list of easy-to-understand conclusions at the end of each chapter. The book is very well organized, full of self-deprecating humor, and most importantly, it is upbeat and encour ...more
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I felt like I learned quite a bit. The major takeaway is something we all know: exercise is good for you! But this book presents the most recent science on why it is good for you and what the best ways to exercise may be, and I find that interesting.

A few of the interesting details:
- a mix of cardio and strength training is best
- plyometrics = good
- interval training = good
- stretching (static) = no scientifically proven benefit and it lik
Exercise for most people has become a ritual -- we do our time on the treadmill or stationary bikes, or escape to the mountain trails or the long weekend with a "bootcamp" label. In most cases, we don't question the methods: we were told by our peers, taught by paid trainers, or simply by doing it. A few things I thought were gold-rules: no pain no gain; cardio burns a lot of calorie; weight lifting increases your metabolic rate, and always stretch before exercise. I thought Wellness, Fitness an ...more
This is a rousing book--literally, it will rouse you right out of your chair. I'm already a convert, I've been exercising regularly for six months now and my body feels completely differently and my energy levels and happiness level is a lot higher. But I learned a lot of interesting information from this book. It's written by a journalist who in her personal life is a runner and interested in the subject. She has culled the results of many scientific studies for this book. Some of the findings: ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It's one of the best I've read in a while and I would highly recommend it, but with one serious caveat. The author quotes extensively from the scientific literature, but does not include a single citation in the entire book. I'm sure a professional journalist is familiar with the idea of a bibliography. This book needs one. Desperately. Yes, I've written a doctoral dissertation and I know that reference lists and bibliographies are a time-sucking nuisance. That's life ...more
Joshua Concepcion
The publisher selected a cheesy title. As a result, the book sounds like something Dr. Oz wrote. But the book--written by the exercise columnist at the NY Times--contains useful advice for exercising.

The book addresses a range of topics, which, even for an active person like myself, remain something of a mystery. Things like, say, the importance of stretching and proper running form are addressed. The author relies on empirics, not hunches.

I skipped over the parts of the book that describe the
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights?: Fitness Myths, Training Truths, and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
  • The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises: Four Weeks to a Leaner, Sexier, Healthier YOU!
  • Stretching
  • The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness
  • You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible Of Bodyweight Exercises For Men And Women
  • Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
  • Your Best Body Now: Look and Feel Fabulous at Any Age the Eat-Clean Way
  • Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention
  • The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess
  • The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards
  • Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry   has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family
  • Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics
  • Body by Science: A Research-Based Program for Strength Training, Body Building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week
  • Move a Little, Lose a Lot: New N.E.A.T. Science Reveals How to Be Thinner, Happier, and Smarter
  • Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--And the Myths and Realities of Dieting
  • Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance
  • Power Speed ENDURANCE: A Skill-Based Approach to Endurance Training

Share This Book

“Every hour of television that a person watches after the age of twenty-five, the researchers concluded, potentially snips twenty-two minutes off of the viewer's life span.” 5 likes
“There is no medicine or other intervention that appears to be nearly as effective as exercise in maintaining or even bumping up a person's cognitive abilities.” 4 likes
More quotes…