“I just don’t have the time!”

Something I hear in so many conversations about physical activity is “I know its good for me but there just aren’t enough hours in the day, I just don’t have the time!” Of course there is a common, apparent easy response which is “you should make time!” Anything that can benefit you physically, mentally, socially and therefore in turn economically has to be worth pursuing. However if you look at any study/ survey around what people use as their ‘barriers’ to exercise and activity the age old problem of ‘time‘ is given in the majority of cases. In fact I’m sure many of you reading this may feel the same, you’d like to do more but in the end you ‘just can’t find the time‘ to be active. Well, in the spirit of an URBANFITNESS London evidence based approach to cut through what I firmly believe is an absolute myth and to be frank B.S. regarding time for exercise and activity lets look at an example…Also as in all things in life you should look at yourself first before guiding others so let’s analyse and critique myself as to be fair I’m a very real example of this process.

Before I start, the caveat to this example is it applies to everyone and all activities/ sports. So here goes…some of you may or may not know, I’m a passionate racing cyclist and with what can only be described as an absolute suffer, ‘hurt-locker,’ constant pain threshold sport comes the commitment to be as fit as possible in order to compete at whatever level. I know this and many times ‘hitting the wall’ (physically not literally…although literally does happen occasionally) during a race only serves to ensure I push myself harder to be better next time. There is an old adage in cycling that no matter how good or quick you think you are there is always somebody much faster and therefore better and that is absolutely true. However in order to constantly try and improve race fitness, comes the need to train and in turn time to do this. Cycling as a sport requires more time than most to train so again others I know who cycle maybe less than I always complain “they don’t have the time!”

Its no surprise to me as I started to focus more on structuring my training last season, drop weight and race more people including friends and family said the likes of “Ah but J you are always on your bike and you have the time so no wonder you are doing better!” So I thought actually let’s look at what the actual facts are, as in most things in life people base decisions, opinions and ultimately choice (see last months blog from Will) on complete myths when you actually peel back the layers and look at the evidence. Therefore lets do just that and then we can all compare and understand what ‘time to exercise’ actually means…For this I need a simple Rachel Riley esq piece of maths:

Available hours in the week = 168 (7days x 24hrs)

Hours asleep = 56 (7days x 8hrs which is one hour over what research has shown as the optimal 7hrs sleep per night, so I’m giving you all a lie-in every day!)

Hours at work = 50 (5days x 10hrs which is over the standard working week and includes travel to/ from work time)

Hours remaining to do whatever you want = 62

Hours that JW spends training on his bike/ in the gym each week = 10 (I’d like it to be more as 15 would certainly improve my performance but 10 is sufficient for the level I compete at)

Therefore % of actual free time spent training = 16%

My conclusion… don’t tell me that I’m always ‘on my bike’ or training ‘in the gym’ as I’m not, 16% of my free time is by no means a great deal. As you can see, here is a very real example that sleep, work, family time, TV time, socialising with friends etc should not get in the way of your exercise and activity, it simply shouldn’t and anybody who tells you/ me different is kidding themselves. To put this in an even simpler context the UK government recommends you spend just a minimum of 2.5hrs (150 mins) being active each week alongside 2 strength based sessions which involve all of the major muscle groups. In the above example that is just 4% of my available free time! Wow that’s easy…what’s even easier is if I get off the tube one stop earlier each day in order to walk to and from work, plus get down to the gym at least twice a week I am more than covered and then starting to really build a solid base of activity to take care of myself.

In summary what I am saying is that ‘finding the time’ is a myth, you are actually choosing NOT to exercise and therefore you can positively effect that by choosing TO exercise. The simple fact is ‘we all have the time to improve and extend our lives’ and that is what exercise and activity brings…so no excuses or poor choices get out there/ down to us at Sugar House and have fun!

Jonathan W