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'Instant Recess' encourages bursts of energy for better health

Steve Jacob, Special to the Star-Telegram

Posted Friday, Mar. 11, 2011

10 minutes to health

Exercise has a branding problem. Most people associate it with long periods of sweating and boredom. However, government guidelines say you can get your exercise in 10-minute breaks throughout the day. That seems more reasonable.

Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time (University of California Press, $22.95) attempts to give some structure to that recommendation. Author Toni Yancey, a University of California professor and former college basketball player, offers a prescription for what she calls "sedentary behavior disorder." The idea is that starting with one 10-minute burst of activity will lead to several more, overcoming inertia along the way.

Yancey favors group activity because social interaction encourages activity. Think day-care centers, business meetings, churches and sports events. The rewards include better mood and increased energy, as well as greater camaraderie. She believes it is an answer to boosting work productivity: What's good for the waistline is good for the bottom line.

After all, recess has the best brand of any class in an elementary school day. Why not extend that through the rest of your life?