Is 20 minutes the magic number when it comes to exercise?

Gretchen Reynolds, author of “The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer,” and New York Times columnist recently went from interviewer to interviewee to discuss the findings in her new book with the paper.

According to Reynolds, most people in the U.S. spend their time predominantly sedentary, and just 20 minutes of exercise can make a world of difference for the average person.

“You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk – all of those things come in the first 20 minutes of being active,” says Reynolds. You don’t have to run a marathon or take an intense training class. “If you walk, your body registers that as motion, and you get all sorts of physiological changes that result in better health,” she explains.

We must admit this is great news for those days when we just aren’t feeling the gym. After all, a brisk walk seems a lot more doable than an hour on the treadmill. Still, before we get too excited, these findings are mostly geared toward those who aren’t exercising regularly. To them, Reynolds’ pleads, “If you just do anything, even stand in place 20 minutes, you will be healthier.”

It’s a message we all need to remember as life gets busy and we make excuses why getting a workout isn’t possible. Whenever that happens, just remember Reynolds’ words: “Just move, because it really can be so easy, and it really can change your life.”