Exercise Science

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gretchen Reynolds writes the "Phys Ed" column for the New York Times and is the author of The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer. She joins us to discuss what science is proving and disproving when it comes to exercise. 


Gretchen Reynolds

Comments [23]


Hi there seems to be some confusion about stretching. I think this is passive stretching at the beginning of a workout. This does not negate
careful stretching, as with well taught yoga (Gretchin Reynolds does yoga I believe). The problem is many people don't understand dynamic warming up and they don't understand the preference of active stretching vs passive stretching which are quite different. Active stretching has good science and done properly will strengthen muscles in addition to increasing (and more importantly improving) range of motion.

Feb. 04 2013 11:38 PM
James from Brooklyn

I drink low fat chocolate milk after a hard workout and it works. I agree with your guest.

Apr. 27 2012 08:02 PM

Being over 45, in pretty good shape, and having tried a variety of movements/exercises, I agree with everything she said. I was just wondering if some of you that don't agree with her, are maybe younger? Just wondering.

Apr. 27 2012 12:08 PM
tom LI

To Holly. Why on earth didn't the PT stretch both hips? To work one side of a structure like the hips, which unlike the shoulders, works in unison all the time, is a recipe for imbalance injuries down the road. You should be working that imbalnce out...

Apr. 27 2012 12:04 PM
The Truth from Becky

'Chocolate Milk" to recover after intense work out?!! BS...If this segment wasn't ending I would turn it off!

Apr. 27 2012 12:03 PM
Michael from Sunset Park

Gretchen's theories on fitness seem to be based on her own habits. Drinking chocolate milk is her recommended choice of beverage to improve your health? She is a contrarian who is feeding off of controversial theories that make little or no sense.

Apr. 27 2012 12:03 PM

caller about back injury: try a physical therapist (but a good one). I think they really really helped me with my knee problem. They know about the entire body and incrementally build up your strength and confidence. The one I've been going to is Jacob at Professional 212-453-4622. awesome.

Apr. 27 2012 12:00 PM
Michelle from nyc

Chocolate milk? Just lost all credibility in my book. Coconut water is way better than Gatorade.

Apr. 27 2012 11:59 AM
Marcel from Brooklyn

Sorry, I have trouble following your guest.
I did an intensive 5 year martial arts program, and GREATLY improved my flexibility, stamina and strength. A great part of that was intense warm ups, and extensive stretching afterwards.

Apr. 27 2012 11:58 AM
tom LI

To Mary the Dancer - if you've been stretching all these years you should not be tightening up...think about it. And its not always the muscles that are the issue, but the connective tissues, ligaments, etc...that are your problem.

Apr. 27 2012 11:57 AM

I have to argue about flexibility. I have personally seen a huge improvement in flexibility with consistent exercise and stretching. After hip surgery I for a sports injury, I had 6 months of physical therapy where flexibility of one leg was stressed. I still have greater flexibility in that leg due to the special attention 3 years later. I agree that some people will never be as flexible as others. I have done martial arts for a decade and seen many different types of bodies with different capabilities, but saying that there is only a "little bit of wiggle room" when it comes to flexibility is just false. I think most athletes who have personal experience would agree with me no matter what the "science" says. This is a very hard thing to quantify.

Apr. 27 2012 11:55 AM
Ruth from Brooklyn

What she said about yoga is correct... THere are people who have done yoga their whole lives and pushed the flexibility limits of their bodies and now are requiring surgery because really, most people are probably not meant to do those things with their bodies.

Apr. 27 2012 11:53 AM
tom LI

The Tarahumara Indians counter all American science into running properly, etc. Read Born To Run, by Chris McDougall

Apr. 27 2012 11:52 AM

What exactly defines "intensive" exercise? Is it based off heart rate, or some other indicator?

Apr. 27 2012 11:51 AM

Gretchen- Does massage help?

Apr. 27 2012 11:51 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I agree that some working out with weights, some yoga, some isometric "pushing," and some aerobics and pushups, etc. should all be part of a varied but consistent program of exercising over the week.

Apr. 27 2012 11:50 AM

I disagree with her about stretching! I'm a dancer and I need to do a short warmup and then stretch. Otherwise I just don't have the range of movement and end up with problems, especially now that I'm in my 30s and am starting to have tighter muscles. Running and walking aren't the only forms of cardio out there!

Apr. 27 2012 11:48 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I've been a very moderate runner on and off for decades and have long said that in my desire to continue running into my old age, I prefer to take it easy rather than to try to "prove" something to myself by for example, running a marathon.

It seems to me that that effort is so beyond getting any real health benefits, and on the contrary, you might ironically limit your lifetime of running by overdoing it. I'd prefer to limit it to very modest distances now so I can run into the future.

Less obsession; more common sense and moderation!

Apr. 27 2012 11:47 AM
Ron Sanecki from Keyport, NJ

Please comment on popular exercise not building on basic exercise physiology facts.
Specifically, RPE, Rating of Perceived Exertion
and, Overload Principle.
This is the stuff that makes exercise effective. Well known, but hard work.

Apr. 27 2012 11:47 AM
tom LI

As a former Professional FT Personal Trainer, I can straight out tell you that most of the industry is full of idiots who think because they're fit, and obsessed with exercise they can and should train others - and no matter their certification the majority should not be training others.

Of the training I still do with others - the best path I have found is that an individual needs to find their own ways to being fit, and first decide what fit means to them, not the exercise pop-culture!

Apr. 27 2012 11:46 AM
workie from new york

what is the best way to do interval training (on a stair master or something like that). What are the ratios of hard to easy. How hard is ok to go (is it ok to be out of breathe)?

Apr. 27 2012 11:45 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I agree with your guest. About 20 minutes a day of vigorous and VARIED exercises are really all you need to maintain proper body functioning.

Apr. 27 2012 11:43 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Please ask her opinion of this recent theory that pyhsical exercise is far superior to crossword puzzles/memory exercises, etc. for mental resilience in brains after age 50.

Apr. 27 2012 10:43 AM

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