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Richard Hoe

Published 11/22/2010 

Instant Recess — Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a time, by Toni Yancey, MD, MPH

We all know that we need to exercise, although only a few of us (relatively) actually get involved in things cardio and/or strength training. While I agree that it’s not the usual book discussed in Broker’s Bookcase, I got hooked. Dr. Yancey’s mantras are these: Make it easy and make it work. She reminded me that I used to climb stairs, and that I rarely do now. Tomorrow I’ll do the stairs, but maybe only for one or two flights until I get used to it again, okay?

I liked this, from the introduction: “Here’s the problem, or part of it: health professionals are prejudiced in favor of knowledge. We paid tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for our education and have spent our lives gathering and refining knowledge about diseases. So we think information can solve any problem. Typical is Harvard cardiologist Peter Libby’s in-the-box assessment in his medical journal commentary on the unfinished business of cardiovascular risk reduction: ‘Despite meaningful progress in the identification of risk factors and the development of highly effective clinical tools, deaths from cardiovascular disease continue to increase worldwide…’” The author says, “we resist changes in our daily routine.” Absolutely true, and it gets worse with age.

So, here’s a helpful book that provides Class A information about exercise, social and workplace policy. In its pages, you’ll get a lot of history, from 1931 ads for exercise machines that require little effort, to Dagwood and Mr. Dithers from the funnies.

The book’s tables will give you lots of ideas about food and simple exercise hints. Instant Recess is so much more, though, than a book about taking 10 minutes here and there to make your day better. That’s great stuff, but the book shines in terms of historical context, including advertising, public policy and why we resist change.

This book is highly readable, fascinating and is chockablock full of good ideas. I had trouble putting it down.