Can\’t find time to exercise? The solution is right in front of you



Being more active is a goal of most people. Despite best intentions though, a busy life can make it seem just all too hard to find the time to fit in some exercise on top of all the other demands of life. Now new research has given some clear pointers to just where people \’find the time\’ to fit in exercise in their day.

Taking part in regular exercise – be it the gym, running, yoga, tennis, or a brisk morning walk – has so many health benefits that, if it was possible to take in a pill, everyone would happily take their daily dose. Not everyone though is a driven exerciser and while motivation is important, it can also be the pressure of life that may make it hard to fit in time to exercise.

Many people with active lives, demanding jobs and a family to care for still manage to fit in exercise so what do these people do differently to those still stuck at the starting gate? Surprisingly, there is no clear answer to this question.

To promote an ongoing effective exercise program, it would be invaluable to know where the best places to look for ‘lost time’ would be. And that\’s just what a novel research study has done.

Recruiting 129 previously inactive adults (aged 18 to 60 years), researchers closely tracked the daily activity and lifestyle habits of each person for 6 weeks. Each person was randomly allocated to either a moderate (150 minutes per week of extra activity) or extensive (300 minutes per week of more activity) physical activity program or asked to keep the status quo by serving as a control group.

The findings were both remarkable for an intervention study and intuitive in their conclusions. People allocated to the activity groups indeed spent more time each week engaged in both physical activity and active transport – adding up to between 21 and 45 minutes more physical activity per day than the control group.

The lion’s share of ‘time found’ in the exercise groups were from less TV and videogame time amounting to 50 minutes per day, and to a smaller extent less time in bed. There was a non-significant increase in computer use time in the activity groups which off-set some of the TV reduction time which the researchers thought was because people were doing some additional work at home to fit in exercise during the working day.

The power of this research was from its randomised controlled design and in depth measures of daily physical activity habits. A clear limitation was that the study population was majority female (64%) who were predominantly well educated and in white collar occupations. The full study can be found here.

Struggling to find time to exercise? The solution lies in the ‘Off’ button of the TV remote control.