It’s a standard in the Corporate world, that many busy executives set one of their New Year’s resolutions to primarily focus and find more time to exercise.
The New York Times reports that if you’re one of those, that you may be in luck.
According to a recent study of how Americans typically spend their waking hours, almost all of us have far more leisure time available than we think we do.
But the study shows that few of us use even a portion of that free time for physical activity, raising thought-provoking questions about what really keeps us from exercising and how we might better shape our days to get ourselves moving.
At the moment, about two-thirds of Americans do not meet the standard exercise guidelines of about 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, such as walking.
Although the study is based in the US, the similarities in the arguments rhymes.
In past studies of exercise behavior, when researchers have asked people why they rarely work out, the almost-invariable response has been that time is too tight. Work, family, school, travel and other obligations seem to gobble up the hours, they said, leaving them feeling unable to sneak in a daily walk or a workout.But whether we are actually too busy has not been clear. Other research has teased the idea that we may underestimate how many hours we spend each day seated in a chair or how much time we devote to watching television.
The New York Times reports that so, for the new study, which was published recently in Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy, researchers from the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., decided to look more closely at what we do with our days and, in particular, how we spend our free time.
The result shows that lack of free time is not responsible for low levels of leisure time physical activity at the population level.
Physical activity requires motivation, but it also requires time. Many studies have documented low levels of physical activity but not how this activity fits (or does not fit) into a person’s day.
The study shows that men reported more free time than women did (mean [standard deviation (SD)], 356  min/d vs 318  min/d, P < .001) and spent 10 min/d more on physical activity (mean [SD], 24  min/d vs 14  min/d, P < .001).
However, men spent essentially all of the additional free time (36 of the 38 minutes) on screen time (mean [SD], 211  min/d for men vs 175  min/d for women; P < .001) and less time across the range of “other” free time activities compared with women.
Men reported about 11% more free time than women did, but men reported about 20% more screen time than women did.