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

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  2,923 Ratings  ·  448 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
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ebook, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Penguin Group USA, Inc
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Maria
May 23, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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David
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
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Gayle Fleming
Jun 17, 2012 Gayle Fleming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Teresa Slack
Mar 02, 2013 Teresa Slack rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Kali
Jan 28, 2013 Kali rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Perci N.
Jul 15, 2013 Perci N. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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+
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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
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Mark
May 18, 2013 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Martin
Jan 02, 2012 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Janice
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
Anna
Jul 17, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Patti's Book Nook
Another foray into fascinating exercise science and general nutrition. I'm loving this topic at the moment, as I'm planning on becoming a health coach this year....eeek!!! This gave me an incredible appreciation for how the body behaves before, during, and post-workout, and the ever-changing information that's available on how to complete the most effective workout. There are obviously the alarming statistics for what a body does when it's not in motion, but that's to be expected.
The beachbod
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A.
May 22, 2012 A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lauren
May 24, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kara
Feb 11, 2017 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book attempts to summarize current scientific knowledge regarding exercise for health and weight loss. It's very readable and enjoyable (I've read it twice!). Ms. Reynolds' primary conclusions seem to be: all exercise is better than no exercise; high intensity intervals are really good for you (though the exact best ratio of high effort to recovery hasn't been determined); exercise doesn't help much in weight loss, but can help significantly with other health factors.
Beth
Jun 23, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathleen
Dec 04, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mark Gray
Mar 03, 2014 Mark Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book for anyone who is undertaking exercise or seriously thinking about starting. I certainly learnt loads of new things
Hope
This book is very much not for me. The glib mouthing of sciency platitudes annoys me too much.
Ci
Jul 24, 2013 Ci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to-books
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
Trena
Jan 22, 2013 Trena rated it really liked it  ·  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
Kylie Sparks
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
Marnie
Nov 24, 2012 Marnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John
Jun 13, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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
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Pat
May 30, 2012 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gretchen Reynolds writes a weekly column on fitness for the NYTimes...this book is an expanded version of that...she is an amusing and entertaining writer and offers up a wealth of current info on health and exercise..the title refers to the fact that for most (sedentary) Americans, the exercise that will benefit them the most is getting up off the couch! It's recommended that we get 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, but Gretchen says they have found that "Almost all of the mortality reduct ...more
Arminzerella
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
Nathan
Jun 03, 2013 Nathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: exercise, science
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
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Vanessa
Jul 18, 2013 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Kelly
Nov 18, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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“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.” 6 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.” 5 likes
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