Maximum workout, minimal time
“The First 20 Minutes,” by Gretchen Reynolds

Exercise better, train smarter, live longer. This is the mantra of Gretchen Reynolds, the New York Times “Phys Ed” columnist. Studies have shown that if you learn to work out effectively, she says, less can be more — or enough, anyway. In her new book, Reynolds points out that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity at a moderate pace to maintain physical wellness. That’s just over 20 minutes a day. Sounds more doable, doesn’t it, than sweat-til-you-drop? (For those who like weight training, Reynolds says go for two sessions a week along with 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.) Also discussed: sport-specific warmups through “dynamic stretching” — using stretching and movements that reflect how you move while playing that sport — and why short sprints are better than long runs for improving running endurance. Reynolds quotes Stuart Phillips, a professor of exercise science at McMaster University, who thinks that a simple squat is the best single exercise you can do. “Do that 25 times. You don’t need to do anything else. It’s a very potent exercise.”

What to do when you feel down
“Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Your Guide to Recovery,” by William R. Marchand

According to William Marchand, a University of Utah assistant professor of psychiatry, “depressed individuals spend more time in bed than those with many serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease, or arthritis.” One of the most important goals in his book is to help people with depression manage emotional distress and ideas of self-harm. He explains how to find out where to seek help and how to develop a plan to manage your emotional ups and downs. Marchand also goes through the symptoms of different mood disorders — panic disorder, social phobias and eating disorders, to name a few — and how doctors diagnose them. The book includes quizzes and surveys to help you recognize a potential mood disorder.

Book cover, “Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Your Guide to Recovery,” by William R. Marchand.
Book cover, “The First 20 Minutes,” by Gretchen Reynolds.

Whitney Fetterhoff