Book: Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time by Toni Yancey
Genre: Public Health Policy
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 2010
Summary: Instant Recess outlines a program and policy shift toward making people more active by breaking down social and cultural barriers to movement while building up structures and expectations that encourage exercise.
The answer, and what I’m advocating in this book is systems change to structure short bouts of group physical activity into our social interactions and cultural expectations, as well as our built environment…It’s time to put the policies, regulations, and practices in place…that will make it a lot easier for [people] to make the active choice and increasingly difficult for them to make the sedentary one. p. 12
Thoughts: Instant Recess is more a policy book than an exercise manual, but it did give me lots of ways to think about exercise in my own life. In particular, it encouraged me to Sit Less.
I’ve been fascinated by the topic of how to get Americans to eat less and healthier despite the frustrating reality of corporations that need Americans to eat more and worse. Toni Yancey argues in Instant Recess, that this paradox is less of a problem when the policy is to move more.
Encouraging people to eat nutrient-rich foods at the expense of processed foods is a losing proposition for the food industry. “Big Food” would lose money, because the profit margins are much smaller for nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains than for highly processed “faux foods” like sodas and fries, but the sports and fitness industry’s interests are served by public health efforts to increase opportunities for physical activity. These companies will make more money if efforts to get the population moving succeed. So there should be less push-back from the private sector in getting people active than in getting them to eat healthy. p. 19
Instant Recess is filled with references to scientific studies and recommendations based on them. It also has poetry–an unusual, but quite effective, mix of presentation.
Appeal: I would love to see anyone who has some responsibility for the health of others reading Instant Recess by Toni Yancey. Employers and policy makers will find great ideas here for simple ways to increase healthy behaviors, along with the evidence that implementing these policies will improve productivity.
Do you read fitness or exercise books? Do you have any to recommend?