Gretchen Reynolds has some advice for the two-thirds of Americans who get no exercise at all.
You don’t have to run marathons, sit on an exercise bike while you watch TV or measure your peak oxygen uptake, says Reynolds, the author of The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer. (We read about Reynolds and her new book in the May 4, 2012, issue of The New York Times.)
Just take a walk for 20 minutes, she suggests. “Humans are born to stroll.”
Reynolds stresses that the first 20 minutes of moving around, if you have been sedentary, provide the most health benefits, including prolonged life and reduced risk of disease.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that exercise has to be hard, that exercise means marathon running or riding your bike for three hours or doing something really strenuous. That’s untrue,” Reynolds says.