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Do You Know How Much Free Time You Have?

by Marianne Navada
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“I don’t have time”–it’s one of the most common reason for not cooking more at home or exercising. But how much free time do you actually have?

According to a study by Rand, Americans average 5 hours of free time a day, but choose to spend most of that time on a screen (TV, digital devices).

There is a general perception among the public and even public health professionals that a lack of leisure time is a major reason that Americans do not get enough physical activity…but we found no evidence for those beliefs.

 Dr. Deborah Cohen | co-author of the study and a physician researcher at RAND, a non-profit research organization.

It’s possible that watching TV or being on our devices provide a period of relaxation, but it’s important to know how much time we spend sedentary, and make room for other activities that contribute to a healthy body and mind.

54% of Americans met the US Federal Guidelines for aerobic activity in 2017. This number increased by 10.6% from 2008.

National Center for Health Statistics
The 2008 Guideline recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity.

Men reported having more than a half-hour of additional free time each day than women.

RAND

The Alternatives

If you find yourself reaching for the phone when you have some free time, here are activities, aside from exercising, that can have a positive impact on your body and mind. Essentially, you’re attempting a habit change, from reaching for a device, to another activity when you have free time. As it’s true for most things, make the activity fun for you and you’ll do it more often.

Spend Time with Yourself | Without Your Gadgets

“We have some evidence to show that valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it,”

Thuy-vy Nguyen | Assistant Professor in the department of psychology at Durham University, specializing in solitude | from NYT article

In Western culture, solitude or time with yourself can be a form of punishment for young people (i.e. “go to your room”) and carries a negative connotation. But solitude can have a positive impact: “solitude helps us regulate our emotions, it can have a calming effect that prepares us to better engage with others.
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TAKE NOTE: being alone doesn’t mean loneliness. Understanding when YOU need to be alone to quiet the mind and reflect is a way to rejuvenate. As much as it’s beneficial to interact with others, time alone is as beneficial.


Resist the urge to play with your phone when you find precious moments of solitude.


Cook and Prep Meals

Use your free time to cook or prepare healthy meals. This can be as simple as chopping veggies, making rice or pasta for future use. Make it fun.

Take Walks

Nothing strenuous or with burning calories in mind–just walk, for relaxation, without judgment.

Pamper Yourself

Give yourself a facial, have a long bath, take your time moisturizing your body.

On Habits

It has to feel good. I tell people this a lot – go to the gym, and just sit there, and read a magazine, and then go home. And do this every day. Go to the gym, don’t even work out. Just GO. Because the habit of going to the gym is more important than the work out. Because it doesn’t matter what you do. You can have fun — but as long as you’re having fun, you continue to do it.

Terry Crews | Former American Football Player | Actor

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