A few ways to take 20 minutes a day for a better you
January 17, 2015 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Despite the hyperbolic title Scientists recommend 20-minute daily walk to avoid premature death, The Guardian has a good summary on the study that looked at 334,161 European men and women over a mean follow-up time of 12.4 years, and comments from Study leader Prof Ulf Ekelund. 20 minutes is a common time period when it comes to recommendations for better health, from the suggestion to stand up for 2 minutes every 20 minutes for those who are sedentary much of the day, to exercising your eyes by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes you spend reading a book or computer screen. If you're looking for some mental well-being from a cleaner home, Apartment Therapy has a plan for cleaning your house in 20 minutes a day for 30 days. For something more strenuous, there are a number of 20 minute workouts, from Men's Fitness, Fitness Magazine, Shape, and Military.com.
posted by filthy light thief (27 comments total) 133 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have no idea how you did this but I just cleaned off the coffee table.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


This is why the 'health argument' that is constantly used to attack fat people doesn't add up. If people were genuinely concerned about others' health, they would spend all their time berating office workers.
posted by dontjumplarry at 1:19 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have an upon awaking workout that takes care of five minutes or so of that twenty. I kept trying to weasel out of it until I realized the benefit, and if I put on a kettle of water, I would be finishing just as the kettle whistle went off. I hate waiting for the pot to boil more than the exercise and with that small reminder of how little time it takes for great benefit, yeah its a fine trap I can't escape.
posted by Oyéah at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


20 minutes is just long enough for a little nap.... just sayin'
posted by HuronBob at 1:30 PM on January 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Walking has to be the #1 thing for me re: endurance and weight loss. Compared to doing martial arts, going to gym classes or pretty much anything else. I've been fortunate enough to build it into my daily commute and as a result I get between 3-5 miles of walking in per day without having to make any mental effort.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:32 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


people are basically ding-dongs. That's my takeaway.
posted by boo_radley at 1:48 PM on January 17, 2015


excuse you but some of us are ring dings

others may prefer to identify as ho hos or even yankee doodles
posted by poffin boffin at 2:01 PM on January 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


(raises hand) special snowball
posted by smidgen at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


> I kept trying to weasel out of it until I realized the benefit, and if I put on a kettle of water, I would be finishing just as the kettle whistle went off. I

Huh. Maybe I will try this. Better than glaring at the kettle, or hitting "recent activity" while I wait for it.

I have been taking after-work walks, three miles if I'm feeling lazy, five-ish if not, and they've become a thing I really look forward to nearly every day. And it's changed the way I think about getting to and from places, of course - places I might've taken a bus to before, I now think well, if I leave 30 minutes earlier I can just walk, and often I do. I'll be glad when it stays light longer in the evenings, since that means I'll feels safer going back to a route I liked a lot (more hills, a little longer).
posted by rtha at 2:08 PM on January 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


FUCK YOU OFFICE WORKERS
posted by lalochezia at 2:12 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm going to follow those links but I've already done my 20 minutes of MetaFilter.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 2:16 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Avoiding all inactivity would theoretically reduce all-cause mortality by 7.35% (95% CI: 5.88%, 8.83%). Corresponding estimates for avoiding obesity (BMI >30) were 3.66% (95% CI: 2.30%, 5.01%

I've been shouting this in Metafilter comment sections of diet and BMI posts for years. Unless you are morbidly obese, if you want to improve your health, you are much better off exercising than dieting.

But in the weight obsessed US, this message always falls on deaf ears, even among doctors.
posted by eye of newt at 2:30 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


No reason it has to be only one though.
posted by Mitheral at 2:53 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


20 minutes is a common time period when it comes to recommendations for better health,

in other words, we should all be listening to more long playing vinyl albums as the typical length of one side averages out at about twenty minutes.

Listen to Side-A of Dark Side of the Moon. Do your exercises, adjustments etc. Listen to Side-B. Do your exercises, adjustments etc. Cue up Side A. of Wish You Were Here ... and so on.
posted by philip-random at 3:09 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a, let's call it a feeling, rather than a theory (or some other word with connotations of science) that the 20 mins mark is kind of arbitrary and has more to do with the psychology of selling the idea to people rather than what is really recommended.

Like, 20 mins of walking is good, but surely 30 mins is better - but if we say 30 mins people would switch off (half an hour? Who has time for that?) and 15 mins would probably be better than nothing, but we're trying to stretch ourselves a little. Better make it twenty.

So why does the human brain embrace a 20 minute time frame? It's a neat little chunk, sure, but why does that seem do-able but even just 5 minutes more seem slightly odd? Has it just become indentured in our brains as "acceptable" because every magazine article is 20 mins to a better body, cleaner house, etc? A feedback loop of this is what the reader accepts because this is what we told them.

Even when I think of a counter example, the only thing I can think of off-hand is the "7 minute workout" which, funnily enough, isn't the whole story. Rather you are meant to do 3 complete series of 7 minutes, for 21 minutes total. Close enough?
posted by Raunchy 60s Humour at 3:19 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


What if the Bloody Mary bar is 19 minutes away?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:32 PM on January 17, 2015


Get to the bar, then pretend you forgot something a block back, or do an extra "victory block" to celebrate your arrival to the bar.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:36 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a, let's call it a feeling, rather than a theory (or some other word with connotations of science) that the 20 mins mark is kind of arbitrary

It's around 100 kcal, which was the extra daily energy expenditure required to move the typical test subject from one category to the next, better one.
posted by effbot at 4:23 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


if you want to improve your health, you are much better off exercising than dieting.

But in the weight obsessed US, this message always falls on deaf ears, even among doctors
.--eye of newt

No reason it has to be only one though.--Mitheral

But in the US it is invariably only one--The headlines always read BMI, the latest diet, how to lose weight. If it is going to be one, we've picked the wrong one!
posted by eye of newt at 4:32 PM on January 17, 2015


By the way, I once read that people who live in two story houses have at least 30% less chance of getting a stroke. Just that little bit of extra exercise of going up and down the stairs a couple times a day is enough to make a difference. I imagine the same is true for people who get up from their computer desks every 30 minutes or so to take a small walk around.
posted by eye of newt at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the Eight-Minute Abs?

Ted: Yeah, sure, Eight-Minute Abs. Yeah, the exercise video.

Hitchhiker: Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: Seven... Minute... Abs.

Ted: Right. Yes. OK, all right. I see where you're going.

Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see Eight-Minute Abs sittin' there, there's Seven-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man?

Ted: I would go for the seven.

Hitchhiker: Bingo, man, bingo. Seven-Minute Abs. And we guarantee just as good a workout as the Eight-minute folk.

Ted: You guarantee it? That's - how do you do that?

Hitchhiker: If you're not happy with the first seven minutes, we're gonna send you the extra minute free. You see? That's it. That's our motto. That's where we're comin' from. That's from "A" to "B".

Ted: That's right. That's - that's good. That's good. Unless, of course, somebody comes up with Six-Minute Abs. Then you're in trouble, huh?

Hitchhiker: No! No, no, not six! I said seven. Nobody's comin' up with six. Who works out in six minutes? You won't even get your heart goin', not even a mouse on a wheel.

Ted: That - good point.

Hitchhiker: Seven's the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. Seven dwarves. Seven, man, that's the number! 7 chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflower seeds, on my uncle's ranch! You know that old children's tale from the sea! It's like you're dreamin' about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly Brie time, baby! Step into my office!

Ted: Why?

Hitchhiker: 'Cause you're fuckin' fired!
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah no I'm not doing this. I may be accepting a 5% increase in all cause mortality but I'm also increasing my enjoyment of life and decreasing my ugh factor by far more than 5%. So that seems like an obvious choice.
posted by Justinian at 5:42 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Building nice brisk walks into my daily commute is actually one of my favorite things about commuting to work by bus. Gives me time to listen to a podcast, move around, and think as I go.

I just moved to a neighborhood that is even more walkable than my last one, and I'm super stoked about wandering over to all the cool things I'm finding around town. We'll see if I actually get going in practice rather than theory, but I'm optimistic.

By the way, I once read that people who live in two story houses have at least 30% less chance of getting a stroke. Just that little bit of extra exercise of going up and down the stairs a couple times a day is enough to make a difference.

....by living in a third-floor walkup, do I get to say I'm effectively immortal now?
posted by sciatrix at 8:39 PM on January 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Everything in moderation; includes moderation.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:52 PM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


For those of us lucky enough to live just the right distance from work and have reasonable weather, biking to work is a great way to start and finish the day. Forty minutes each way darn near every day has sure made my life better.
So if I don't get run over I'll be golden!
posted by cccorlew at 9:49 AM on January 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I once read that people who live in two story houses have at least 30% less chance of getting a stroke

Was that controlled for age and mobility? Older people are more likely to live in one-story houses, and are (as a class) more prone to strokes. Similarly, those with mobility issues are less likely to exercise, which might increase stroke risk in and of itself.

(Not that stairs aren't great exercise if you have them, the semester I had in college where three of my classes were on the fourth flour of a building with useless elevators increased my endurance considerably.)
posted by thegears at 7:59 AM on January 19, 2015


We actually have a "wellness challenge" at my place of employment this month: take the stairs to our fifth-floor suite.

I'm in, it's interesting how it's gotten noticeably less difficult since the beginning of the month.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:32 PM on January 19, 2015


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