Move more, eat better: these goals top any weight watcher’s goal list. In fact, they top anyone’s health improvement list, no matter their size or weight. While lifestyle advice churns out wherever we look, it seems, some new books offer fresh insights and help that don’t require dropping whole food groups or changing your personality.
If regular exercise eludes you, for instance, Gretchen Reynolds’ new book The First 20 Minutes: The Myth-Busting Science That Shows How We Can Walk Farther, Run Faster, and Live Longer may have you thinking differently about the importance of movement. Reynolds, who writes on exercise science for The New York Times, looks at why, how, and how much exercise helps. What she uncovers may surprise you. Some of this will certainly interest those whose routines flag because weight stays stuck. Or because the routines themselves seem daunting.
The most recent science, in fact, suggests that exercise helps weight in a less direct manner than we typically think. One of its most important roles, for example, may be as a “gateway” behavior to other health habit changes. Further, different benefits accrue for exercise routines of different types and different durations, including those 20-minute ones of the title. And any movement at all, anything but sitting , in other words, burns calories and boosts health.
How do you get yourself to move more, even if you target the small change? Diet and exercise habits notoriously challenge people in their change efforts. Last year, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, renewed attention to willpower building. Excerpts from their, and others’, work continue to appear in women’s and health-oriented magazines. This focus on “the self-control muscle” can aid our efforts tremendously. But Miriam Nelson and Jennifer Ackerman’s The Social Network Diet renews attention, instead, to the ways our social environment.