Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gretchen Reynolds and chocolate milk

I am a fan of duration, my title for studies of amounts of time needed for this and that.  As a kid, I was turned on by pictures of Clifton Webb portraying Frank Gilbreth, an early time and motion study enthusiast.  He loves to go around with a stopwatch timing things.  Is it faster to button a shirt from the top button down or the other way?  Understanding human work and play patterns turns out to be far more complicated than Gilbreth seemed to think but the idea of getting better results is still a draw to me.  

One of the simplest aspects is just the raw, basic duration.  There are several books, and I am confident, related articles, on the number 10,000 hours.  The rule of thumb being put forth is for the highest level of expertise, one needs to practice an activity for 10,000 clock hours.  From a statistical point of view, we naturally expect some people to be astounding thinkers, performers, investigators with considerably less than that number and some to reach astoundinghood only after quite a bit more.  

How much time?  How often?  When?  Aspects of time are of interest so I keep an eye out for research or comments on the subject.  About a week ago, I happened upon Gretchen Reynold's "The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer".  (Amazon is great at "helping" me discover just what I "need".) I figured with such title the book would only be marginally about duration.  It is actually about every aspect of exercise and related subjects, such as diet, that I have wondered about since high school, more than 50 years ago. The book is very well-written and keeps my interest steadily.

Here is a sample paragraph:

Every week brings a new discovery that undercuts another entrenched (and often beloved) exercise practice. Who once would have believed that massage would turn out not to help tired muscles to recover? Or that chocolate milk would? For years we were told it was impossible to drink too much water during a marathon, but overdrinking, it's been proven, can kill. The litany goes on. Stretching is probably bad for your muscles, but running is good for your knees. Weight training makes you smart. Lucky underpants really work. Your genes might be the reason you're so reluctant to work out in the first place. And humans are born to stroll.

Reynolds, Gretchen (2012-04-26). The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer . Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Reynolds is the author of the New York Times blog, "Well", another credential supporting her ability to write, think and explain.
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