Welcome 2022!

It’s a new year! A chance for a fresh start. I love it! Here’s hoping that this year brings you only the best. And here are some tips to help you stay healthy and motivated in the coming year:

  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. It will set you up to stay hydrated all day long. Try to drink at least the equivalent of half your body weight (in oz) throughout the day. Proper hydration will help your body function more effectively and it will also help you think more clearly.
  • Get moving. Walks are a great way to get you (and your pets) a few extra steps each day. It’s also a great way to plan scheduled breaks into you busy day.
  • Set a goal of trying one new thing a month. With so many how-to videos on the internet, we can virtually teach ourselves how to do anything. How about trying some different forms of staying active, like yoga, stretching, strength training? There are so many options that there is no reason to let your routine get boring.
  • Get outside and experience nature. Even if you only go out for only 5 minutes, a little fresh-air goes a LONG way. Being out in nature has been shown to improve your mood and your outlook on life.
  • Create a sleep routine. Unplug from electronics at least 1-2 hours before going to bed. Sleep helps our health in so many ways, so try to make sure you set yourself up for a restful night. Your daytime self with thank you!
  • Start a gratitude practice. Set the tone by writing down 3 things you are grateful for each day before you go to bed. Despite all the less-than-pleasant and crazy things going on these days, there really is a lot to be thankful for. I am especially grateful that you are part of our community!

If you need some accountability to get out for a walk, a run, a hike, or just to take a break in your day, you can join the WIM group Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 30 minutes to get out, get some fresh and give yourself a mental and physical break during your day. I hope to see you there! You can register to receive the zoom link here.

And if you are looking for some activities you can do anywhere, anytime in just a few minutes each day, here is a recap of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge to get you started:

Week 12
Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

What I’m Thankful For

Studies show that a gratitude practice can help improve your mood and help you feel happier. Even those who don’t practice gratitude regularly tend to count their blessings this time of year. I’ve received several emails on the topic of gratitude this week alone. What am I grateful for? My health, friends, family and (especially after 2 years of pandemic) the ability to spend time together. One Thanksgiving tradition wraps all of those things together and ties it with a bow on top: the Turkey Trot. Perhaps there was one in your neighborhood. I know of three different ones here in Sonoma County and I suspect there were even more. If you are unfamiliar with the Turkey Trot, it is a “race” usually anywhere from 1 mile to 5 miles that takes place over Thanksgiving weekend. Most often it is a 5K (3.1 mile) run on Thursday morning. If you don’t run, you may not think Turkey Trots are for you, but I am here to dispel you of that misconception. Turkey Trots are for everyone!

First of all, I use the term “race” loosely. Very few people try to run a personal best at a Turkey Trot. On the contrary, Turkey Trots are about getting together with friends, family and neighbors and working up an appetite before the big feast. There is no time limit and no pace is too slow. You can walk leisurely the whole way and I guarantee you won’t be alone. My friends and neighbors Kelly and Kei did just that at the Healdsburg Turkey Trot and they were far from last. I know they weren’t last because after Meg & I finished running the course, we walked back along the course in reverse to find them. People bring babies in strollers, kids barely old enough to walk (there were twin cuties wearing matching sparkly tutus), teenagers and even a few grandmas in wheelchairs. Many dogs participated and my little Lucy had a fabulous time. The Turkey Trot started at our usual walk time of 8am, but Lucy seemed concerned that so many people were “joining us” on our morning walk. She ran as fast as she could (which is much faster than my “comfortable” pace) as if to say “Run, Mommy, thousands of people are chasing us!”

Of course, if you want to run you can. A friend of mine finished first in her age in group in the San Francisco Turkey Trot and won a pie! There were similar edible prizes in Healdsburg, but no one I know was in the running for an award (pun intended). We were out there to have fun. I ran into people I haven’t seen in almost two years since the pandemic closed my crossfit gym and people I used to work with. It was so fun to connect with everyone. I am grateful for Turkey Trots because Turkey Trots are an opportunity for the whole family to get to moving, to connect with friends and neighbors in the community, to have fun, and to work up as much or as little of a sweat as you like before sitting down for all that yummy food. If you’ve never been to a Turkey Trot, I highly recommend it. But unfortunately, you’ll have to wait about 362 days for the next one.  

In the meantime, don’t forget about that daily gratitude practice, and  be sure to check out the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge for activities you can do anywhere, in any type of weather, in 60 seconds or less:

Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

The seasons are changing and hot chocolate weather is almost upon us.  In Lake Tahoe, the bears are getting ready to hibernate, but that is not what we humans are about. In fact, winter is an awesome time to get outside for a run, walk and hike. It is a quieter time when you can enjoy the serenity of nature and experience different scenery than we usually see on our runs, walks and hikes. And best of all, it is not unbearably hot or humid! An advantage of running, walking and hiking in winter is that with proper planning, you can be completely comfortable. I do not know about you, but I can never be comfortable in the blistering heat. Sometimes I wish I could just peel off my skin. However, with proper layering you can be completely comfortable in the cold and even in the rain. Personally, I love running in the rain because it makes me go faster!

Here is my tried and true technique for layering:

Base layer: the layer closest to your skin which wicks away sweat

As the next-to-skin layer, a base layer’s job is moving perspiration away from your skin. In cool or cold conditions, wicking long-underwear-style base layers keep your skin dry. This is important because it will help keep you from becoming chilled or hypothermic.

Base layers are usually made of synthetics like polyester and nylon or natural fibers like merino wool and silk. Base layers can be lightweight, medium-weight, and heavyweight. Of course, the heavier the fabric, the warmer you will be. But the most important function of the base layer is to move the sweat away from your body. In order to do that, the base layer should be snug and fit closely to the skin. Here in Northern California where it is not terribly cold, a short-sleeved performance running shirt makes a great base layer.

Mid-layer: the insulating layer which retains your body heat to protect you from the cold

The insulating layer helps you retain the heat that is generated by your body. The more efficiently this middle layer traps that heat, the warmer you will be.

Polyester fleece makes an outstanding mid-layer and isavailable in lightweight, midweight and heavyweight fabrics. Fleece stays warm even if it gets damp, and it also dries quickly. Fleece breathes well making it less likely that you will overheat with exertion. And it feels so cozy!

However, because of its breathability, over time, wind and rain can blow right through it causing you to lose insulation. This is why you need to also have an outer layer.

Outer layer: a shell which shields you from wind and rain

The outer layer protects you from wind, rain and snow. Shells range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple wind-resistant jackets. Some shell layers have zippered vents to improve breathability. While you may not need a super-pricey mountaineering jacket for a 5 mile run or a day hike, you may need more than a lightweight rain shell depending on the conditions you will encounter. Consider how long you plan to outside when choosing an outer shell. You may even opt to invest in different types of shells, just like you have different types of clothing.

Shells primarily fall int two main categories:

Waterproof/breathable shells: The most functional (and expensive) choice, this type of shell is your best option for full-on storm conditions. Usually, the higher priced shells will keep you drier, but pay attention to the technical details the shell offers to make sure it truly is rated “waterproof” and “breathable”.

Water-resistant shells: These are more suited to drizzly, breezy conditions. They are less expensive than waterproof/breathable shells and are typically made of tightly woven nylon or polyester fabrics that block light wind and light rain. They can be great in a pinch or if you are only out for an hour or so, but they will not hold up to a full day of hiking in pouring rain. I like to keep a packable lightweight shell in my backpack at all times, just in case. You never know (especially in Northern CA) when it will get colder than you expected as the day goes on or you climb to the top of an exposed hill or mountain.

Hats: And finally, do not forget about your head and your extremities.

Body heat is often lost through your head since your exposed head responds to changes in temperature more quickly than any other part of your body. Do not forget to carry along a fleece or wool hat for winter workouts to cover your head in cold weather. If you prefer something lighter-weight. nylon and polyester caps work well also.

Gloves: For cold-weather exercise, moisture-wicking, breathable gloves are advisable. For cool conditions, thin liner gloves may be all that you need.

Socks: When you exercise heavily, your feet produce a lot of perspiration. This perspiration can lead to blisters unless you wear synthetic or merino wool socks that wick away moisture. In winter, this moisture can lead to cold feet. I avoid cotton socks during the winter.

The tips above should keep you comfortable while exercising outdoors in the coming months. However, if you are looking for indoor activities, be sure to check out the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge:

Week 7
Week 6
Week 5

Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

How Old is Too Old?

Seven months ago, I was chatting with a lovely lady who wanted to find some motivation to get moving. She had been an athlete in high school and college but stopped playing sports when she hit “middle age”. I get it. We get busy with our careers, our kids, and we start to feel “too old” to focus on “play”.  

In our hectic lives, we often focus so heavily on work and family commitments that we never seem to have time for pure fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, many of us stopped playing. Others of us, like me, never played at all.  As adults, when we carve out some leisure time, we are more likely to zone out in front of the TV or computer than engage in fun, rejuvenating play like children do. But play is not just essential for kids. It can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Play can add joy to our lives, relieve stress, enhance our ability to learn new things, and connect us to others and the world around us. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.

In my talk From Couch Potato to Woman in Motion in 5 Easy Steps, one of the steps is Do Something You Enjoy. Getting and staying fit does not have to be drudgery. In fact, it should not be drudgery or you will not stick with it. Believe it or not, I love *almost* every minute that I get to run. I “get” to run. I do not “have” to run. It is the highlight of my week, and every day that I get to run (about 4 times a week), I feel better for having done it. Don’t like running? That’s OK! There are tons of ways to get active and I encourage you keep looking until you find the one that brings you joy. How about dancing, biking, or swimming? There are plenty of options. Do what makes you happy!

The best news is, there is no magical age when you have to stop doing what makes you happy. I walked my first marathon in honor of my 40th birthday and started running shortly thereafter. In honor of my 50th birthday, I ran the 48.6-mile Dopey Challenge. This winter I plan to ski for first time in more than a decade. My friend and client who I mentioned at the beginning of this article recently walked her very first half marathon at the age of 65 years young and had so much fun she is planning on doing another. Another friend, who coincidentally also just turned 65, is training to consistently run a 5K. You never get too old to set new goals! And you are definitely never too old to go out an have fun!

Photos from the ZombieRunner Halloween 5K and Half Marathon:

Looking for some simple exercises to keep you moving that take almost no time, no equipment, and can be done anywhere?

Check out the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge:
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Calling All Zombies!

The Zombie Apocalypse is coming! Join WIM at the ZombieRunner Halloween 5K, 10K or Half Marathon. Walkers welcome! The course is flat and you will have plenty of time to finish regardless of your pace. No one walks alone! Come join us for this social community event near San Jose, CA on October 31st. Costumes are encouraged and there will be prizes! 

If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so here.

Here are the details:
We will meet at Hellyer County Park (Buena Vista Pavilion) at 7am. Note that there is a $6 fee parking fee.

The course is along the Coyote Creek Trail and is very easy to follow. You’ll see directional signs on traffic cones indicating the correct route.

Please be courteous on the trail. If you’re passing another runner or hiker, announce “on your left” as you approach.

Headphones are allowed on dirt road sections only. Please do not wear headphones on single-track trail, while crossing paved roads, when at aid stations, or while crossing the finish line.

No dogs allowed on the course. Please don’t leave pets in your vehicle.

There will be fully-stocked aid stations every 2-3 miles. You can expect fresh fruit, salty snacks, assorted candy, water, and Clif Shot Electrolyte sports drink. If you would like to be sure that you have any other specific item at the event, you should carry it with you. There will be post-run snacks at the finish line and we will likely go out for lunch afterwards depending on how everyone is feeling. 

This event is cup-free! In order to preserve the environment and eliminate waste, paper cups will NOT be provided. Be sure to bring a water bottle, bladder, or other recepticle to put your fluids in. If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so here.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

Check out the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge here:
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Join me on FB Live on Thursdays at 9am each week until Christmas.

Get Fit Without Working Out

We’ve all heard that mindset matters and it does. When it come to getting fit, however, many people are conditioned to believe that the mindset we need is more motivation, more dedication and more workouts. However, IMHO, that is NOT the mindset that will get help you get fit. Rather, the mindset you should focus on is having more FUN. Yes, that’s right. All you need to do to get in shape is the HAVE FUN while moving, of course.  

Here are some ideas of fun ways to get in shape You even get extra points if you include your family, friends or significant other, because getting in shape together just adds to the FUN FACTOR.


An active date really gets your heart racing – in every sense. Not only will you be well on your way to hitting your 100% daily activity goal for that day, but you’ll also get to have a laugh with your loved one. Plus, your body will reward your efforts with a bunch of feel-good hormones, which will help you relax and enjoy yourself. 

If minigolf doesn’t sound like your idea of a date, you can opt for something active but more romantic. Try a bike ride along a river together, stopping for a picnic along the way. Or spend an afternoon wandering around a museum or park together. How about going dancing? You don’t have to be good at it…just enjoy the music and keep moving! After all, who said dates could only be dinner and movie?

Don’t have a significant other? That doesn’t have to stop you from making a date for active fun. This past Friday I met up with a wonderful group of ladies from my Petaluma Polka Dot Networking Group and we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge together. The weather was fabulous, the company was fabulous, and an amazing time was had by all. The lunch afterwards was even fabulous too! View photos here.


Think about all the pastimes kids enjoy – jumping on the trampoline, skipping rope, kicking a ball around, hula hooping, roller skating, riding a bike.  Imagine how fit you would be if you still did all those things.

Children know all the fun ways to get fit because they’re not doing it for their health. They’re doing it for pure enjoyment. So, if you have children in your life, why not join in with the fun and games? Whether you take them swimming or play a game of tag in the backyard, you’ll quickly add to your daily activity. It’s also great bonding time! Who doesn’t want to be the cool parent, aunt, mentor, or friend?


Tending to your garden will not only improve your landscaping, it will improve your mood and your body as well. One caveat, however: be mindful of how you bend, squat, and push so that you don’t end up hurting your back or shoulders. Treat gardening like any workout, do a gentle warm up beforehand, and then be mindful of how you engage your core muscles and place your feet while you’re active around the garden. As I say all the time, posture and form are everything!


You probably walk your dog around the block to do their business each day – but imagine how delighted they’d be if you went for a really long walk? A whole hour spent wandering around a park, romping through a field, or strolling along a river will undoubtedly make you their new best friend.

Not only is a daily walk vital to your dog’s health, but it’s important for yours as well. You can always find the time if you plan for it. If you are one of those people who has a hard time doing something for yourself, how about doing it for your best friend/family member? Not only will it help you hit 100% of your daily activity goal, but you’ll probably find it will become your favorite part of the day too.

You might think that your dog will slow you down on a long walk, especially with all the fun things to sniff and other puppies to say hello to. However, most dogs will walk very fast once they get going because they’re so excited to be out and about. Don’t be surprised if they’ll end up taking you for the walk. People I meet on our walks always laugh about how Lucy walks me around the neighborhood each day!


If you end up in back-to-back meetings most days, try to make time for an active chat. Grab some water, take a walk around the block, or head for the nearest park with your colleague. Not only will it get you away from the office and your various screens, but it will help you both get some fresh air – and probably some fresh ideas. The daily WIM Walks are based on this very premise. Network while moving!

Stanford University research has found that walking can increase creative thinking. So, while we sometimes need spreadsheets in front of us for certain meetings, we should take the chance to up our daily activity whenever we have the opportunity. Who doesn’t want to come up with brighter ideas – and spend more time out of the office on a nice day?

Walking also gives you perspective and increases your productivity more than sitting in the same room all day. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to bond a little more with your colleagues and build those working relationships that enhance our everyday lives. So, get out of the office and get active together.

Need more ideas on how to keep moving? Don’t forget to check out the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge for more ideas on how to stay fit as the seasons change. You can view Week 2 here.

Only 12 Weeks to Xmas!

Yes, my friends! We are 12 weeks away from Christmas! How are you getting ready? Do you have your shopping list? Are you unpacking the decorations?  How will you celebrate the Winter Solstice? But more importantly, how will you keep your fitness up? This is the time when many people abandon their fitness routine. I get it. You’re busy, There are a ton of things to get done (and they have a deadline, no less!). Family is coming, the house needs to be cleaned, the cooking needs to be done, the shopping needs to be done, the gifts need to be wrapped…need I go on? But as I know you know, you can’t fill from an empty cup. Your own self-care is crucial to your being able to take care of everything else. I encourage you to think of your fitness not as another item on your to-do list, but as something you do for yourself, something that helps you feel rejuvenated and something that lights up your day. Don’t think of it as “exercise” think of it as “self care”. Whatever you do to stay fit should feel good, not a chore. 

With the change in seasons, you may not be able to go outside as much. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up! The 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge is designed to help you stay active by expanding your repertoire of indoor fitness activities you can do anytime, anywhere without any special equipment. So if you have a free moment while you are waiting for the oven to pre-heat, you can get in some movement while you wait! Join me on Facebook Live every Thursday at 9am Pacifc/12pm Eastern for a new challenge. If you missed this week’s activity, you can view it here.

Fall is Here!

Welcome to October! Fall is really here. As I mentioned last week, this is my favorite time of year. I grew up in Florida without seasons. During my first fall season in 1985 when I was starting college in Philadelphia, I fell in love with this time of year. For many people however, this time of year marks the end of summer (with its endless sunshine and outdoor activities) and the beginning of winter (with its short dark days and cold stormy nights). Often this is the time of year when people give up on their fitness routines. Bathing suit season is over and the shorts get traded in for bulky sweaters and sweatpants. And depending on where you live, you may be trading the sunshine for weeks full of dark damp days. However, the change of seasons doesn’t have to spell doom for your fitness routine. But it may be time for a change if outdoor activities are not an option for you.  If you are interested in expanding you repertoire of indoor exercises, join me for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge starting this Thursday, October 7th. You can join me on Facebook Live every week at 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern/6am Hawaii and I will demonstrate exercises you can do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment or simple things you already have around the house. Each exercise will have several options to take into account various fitness levels, so everyone will be able to do each one. And yes, October 7th is just 12 weeks away from Christmas.  Shocking, I know!

Be sure to join our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/wimruntheworld to be notified when I am going live. However, you can use the link above to tune in even if you don’t have a facebook account.

And in the meantime, to help you get into the seasonal spirit, here is a recipe for my favorite pumpkin spice protein smoothie:

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

  • 5 1/3 ounces (150g) 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (122g) canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 large frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend (or make your own with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or allspice)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (use the good stuff!)
  • 1 scoop protein powder (any brand you like will work, but I personally prefer plant-based protein because dairy does not sit well with my digestive system. After much research, I recommend Garden of Life Raw Organic, unflavored sugar-free Vegan Protein Powder)
  • 1/2 cup (240ml) ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in the blender, in order. Secure the lid and insert the tamper, if you have one, and blend, starting on a low speed and quickly shifting to high. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Serves: 1 | Serving Size: 1 glass
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 331; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 19mg; Sodium: 99mg; Carbohydrate: 47g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Sugar: 33g; Protein: 33g

Pre-Workout Snacks to Keep You Going

What you eat before working out can drastically impact how you feel during and even after your workout. It’s important to give your body what it needs so that you are feeling your best. Since all of our bodies are different, the best way to figure out what works for you is through trial and error. But where should you start when looking for the perfect balance for you? Here are some tips to that may help…

First, let’s start off with some general information about how different foods fuel our bodies and how those foods are utilized differently depending on the type of exercise you are doing. When we head out for a walk, hike or run, most of our fuel comes from glycogen stores (the stored fat and carbohydrate) in our body. Those stores come from the food that we eat in the days leading up to the walk, hike, or run. What you eat immediately before you start will not be stored as glycogen, but rather, will be more readily used during the workout. For example, if you eat a snack high in carbs right before you start, then you will burn a higher proportion of carbohydrates during the workout. This is particularly helpful, for example, if you are doing speed work where you are burning lots of energy quickly.

For short walks, hikes or runs (45 minutes or less), it is fine to go out on an empty stomach. One caveat: when I go out on an “empty stomach” it still has a latte in it, because I don’t go anywhere without a latte! And that does have about 150 calories with a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates.  But if it going to be a short walk, it is OK to go on a completely empty stomach.

To fuel longer walks, hikes or runs, you will definitely want to combine carbohydrates with protein and fat to help keep you from getting hungry. A meal complete with all three macronutrients can help delay the onset of fatigue, improve endurance and enhance performance.

Now that we’ve got that figured out, here are some snacks you may way to try:


I love peanut butter toast with banana and/or honey. You can add chia seeds on top too. You can put anything you want on your toast, but I have found that peanut butter sits well with my stomach and the extra fat and protein helps keep me full vs. if I just have plain or buttered toast. If I add honey, I get a little extra carb boost as well, which is helpful on long run or hard workout days.

I eat toast before all types of workouts – long, short, easy, intense. What varies is what I top the toast with, depending on the type of workout, and how many pieces I eat, depending on how long I plan to be out.

If you are gluten intolerant or do not like bread, you can substitute an apple for the toast. An apple with one tablespoon of peanut butter is my favorite mid-morning or afternoon snack. And just like the toast, you can add a bit of honey too for an extra carbohydrate boost!

Energy Chews

Energy chews are another option if solid food is tough for you to stomach or if you prefer the convenience of prepared, packaged foods. There are a lot of brands out there (GU, Skratch, Clif, Honey Stinger). This is the best option if you only have about 15 minutes before your workout and no time to properly digest real food.  But since chews are only carbs without protein or fat, you will probably get hungry mid-workout. Personally, I prefer to use chews for fueling mid-workout because they are easy to carry and fit in my pockets. I also keep some extra chews in my backpack just in case my hike or bike ride goes longer than expected and I am running low on energy. Because they are packaged, the do last a long time (yeah, I know…that can be good AND bad…) so they are easy to store for “emergencies”.

Remember we are talking about chews (they look like blocks or gummies). Gels, which seem similar (but are more like a thick liquid), do not seem to work as well for me and tend to have more sugar.

Dates stuffed with nut butter

This is another great real-food snack and it often gives me the quickest burst of energy of all the options. I buy medjool dates, slice them open, remove the pit and stuff it with peanut butter, almond butter or tahini (sesame seed butter) Two or three of these are a great pick-me-up!

Sliced banana with peanut butter and salt

Bananas combat muscle cramps, peanut butter adds protein, and salt helps balance out sweat. This is a bit lighter of a snack, so it is good for walks, hikes and runs of about 3-5 miles.


Before a long walk, hike or run (12 miles more more), Instant oatmeal is my go-to breakfast. For a full or half marathon, I always have 2 packets of Quaker instant oats before I leave the house. The time I spend driving to start line and waiting in the corral for the race to start gives me plenty of time to digest and it keeps me feeling full for several hours. Admittedly, Quaker instant oats packets have dehydrated fruit and some added sugar, but I find that just helps boost my energy and endurance during a race. And I know I will burn off the extra sugar when I am out there for 13-26 miles!

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great addition to an athlete’s diet and they serve as a base for great toppings, similar to toast and oatmeal. I find them easier to digest than the traditional bagel and they are a lot more nutritious too.

Make the Most of Your Time

If you know me, you know I like to be very efficient with my time. After a long career in the high-tech industry, where time is EVERYTHING, I hate to waste even a minute of my day. (Note: self-care and resting my body and my mind do NOT count as wasted time—that’s an important and productive part of the day!)

As a result, I have spent a lot of time learning how to get the most out of each workout.  Gretchen Reynolds writes the Phys Ed column for the New York Times. In her book “The First 20 Minutes,” she breaks down the science of how to get the most from the time you spend on exercise.

According to Reynolds, if your goal is to be healthy, to have less risk of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, obesity, then it appears that the first 20 minutes of moving will provide most of those health benefits.  And that’s any type of moving, it doesn’t have to be running. Walking, cycling, going up stairs, gardening. Any type of human movement is really important for health, and most of the benefits of exercise or activity in general, are gathered in the first 20 minutes compared to sitting on the couch. Even more interesting is that those 20 minutes do not have to be done all at once. If you are having a busy day, studies show there is still benefit to getting up and moving for even 5 minutes…so try that 4 times during the day.

If you are a runner, you may be wondering how much running is ideal.  The human body definitely needs to be moving, and running is a really good way in a concentrated period of time to move. But as with many things (like chocolate cake!), more is not always better for your health. Science suggests that moderation is the ideal approach to running. A study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine suggests that running about 3 miles a few times a week at a moderate (or even slow) pace will potentially give you the longest lifespan.  There is some evidence that doing a lot more running may not necessarily be be better for you, and doing a whole lot less, you will not get quite as many health and fitness benefits. A moderate amount of running appears to be the absolute sweet spot.

Is sitting all day killing us?

According to Reynolds, there is a new school of thought that sitting all day — even if you regularly exercise — is very unhealthy.  She talks about a phenomenon that she  calls the “active couch potato” —people who may exercise at once a day and then sit the entire rest of the day. The exercise will not completely undo the health problems of sitting for eight, 10 hours a day, which is average for Americans.

What happens when you sit for really extended periods of time is a number of systems start malfunctioning in your body. You start producing less of an enzyme that breaks up fat in your bloodstream. That fat then goes to your muscles, your heart, your liver. The big muscles in your body are not contracting, so you are not pulling as much blood sugar out of your blood, so you start having too much insulin. That’s the beginning of Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance.

So what do we do?

According to Reynolds, the answer is actually surprisingly simple. Stand up. There is very good and growing evidence that standing up about every 20 minutes is really important for good health.  This does not mean that you have to do anything while you are standing up. You do not have to jog in place, you do not have to run, you do not have to do jumping jacks. You can if you choose to (I like to do squats when I stand up), but there have been a number of studies that have found that if you stand up about every 20 minutes for two minutes, the big muscles in your legs and your back will contract. Doing so increases the production of enzymes that break up fat, which means you are pulling more blood sugar. If you have ever been on a zoom meeting with me, you have probably noticed that I move around a lot. I apologize for the distraction it may cause, but I do it because it makes me feel better and allows me to concentrate on the meeting that much better.

Studies have found that just standing up more often reduces heart disease risk and diabetes risk. It also has been found to help with weight control. If you sit unendingly for hours, for six, seven hours, there are implications for weight gain. So stand up. It’s so easy.