2.25.2016

Walk More Places People

When people tell me, "I want to exercise but I don't have the time," what I hear is, "I don't really want to exercise." Because what they are really saying is not that they lack the time to exercise, but rather that they have not prioritized exercise over other things in their lives that demand their time.

Think of time like currency. Every day when you wake up, you get a deposit in your time bank of 24 hours (1440 minutes) to spend that day however you want, no more or less. Everyone gets the same time allowance, as dictated by the Laws of Physics. That's 168 hours in a week. Everyone decides for themselves how they want to spend the time and how much they want to spend on various activities. Like actual currency, people want the most bang for their buck when it comes to spending their time allowance. Some of the time spent can generate actual currency, like time spent going to work.

Health experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week (SOURCE). That's about 2.5 hours out of 168, or about 1.5% of your weekly allowance of time, that should go to exercise for optimal health (all else held constant). It's not that much time and the return on investment can be immense, in the form of not dying and fewer medical costs over time. Consider that most people with full time jobs spend 40+ hours (~25%) of their weekly time allowance going to workplaces they would probably much rather avoid. Why can't they spend a fraction of their time allowance on exercise? Is it because they don't see immediate benefits or monetary value in it? Exercise doesn't usually generate money for most people and some people spend exorbitant sums of money on gym memberships and the like, even if they never go (wishful thinking). Some health insurance providers offer wellness rebates to customers who join gyms, but the amount is usually meager. The real value of exercise comes in the form of better health and longevity, which in turn means more time to spend over the course of your whole life.

I realize that the 30 minutes per day figure does not take into account the time it takes to change clothes, maybe drive to a gym (if you can't work out at home or in your neighborhood), shower afterwards and change into clean clothes, etc. The time cost needed to work out can increase substantially when those other things are at play, and I can totally understand people not wanting to spend their precious time on all the secondary stuff.

The bottom line though is that if you really want to exercise, you'll need to carve out the time to do it. If you want to make binge watching the new season of your favorite Netflix show a priority instead, you can do that. You don't need to change clothes or make much effort at all to watch Netflix. Just press a couple buttons and you are good to go. You'll be instantly gratified with entertainment value.

Note: Modern technology being what it is, you can actually binge watch Netflix whilst exercising at the same time, if you are resourceful.

That all being said, some people literally may not have the time to spend on exercise. Their lives are so action packed with priorities like family, job, and whatever else that they simply can't prioritize exercise. Or by the time they get to the end of the day, they are simply too wiped out from everything else they spent time on to muster the energy for exercise. This is why I advocate for exercising in the morning whenever possible, before the other demands and priorities of the day suck out your will to live.

It's not like the time police are forbidding you from spending time on exercise, or anything else for that matter. You are your own policeman. You decide where your time allowance will be spent. Sure, other people will demand your time, but ultimately you decide where your time is spent.

I used to work with a guy who was ridiculously bad at getting his work done. When pushed on it, his excuse was always, "I wanted to get to it, but I had meetings all day." And it was true. He had meetings filling up his calendar almost every day...BECAUSE HE SCHEDULED THEM! He basically prioritized meetings over doing his work and so he "didn't have time" to do work. On the face of it, it seemed like a valid excuse, but it really wasn't. He had a choice to go to less meetings so he could do more work, he just chose not to. On top of that, he still had to get the work done, so he ended up working after hours and on weekends. That's no way to live.

It's possible to passively exercise in such a way that it doesn't even seem like a big expenditure of time. For example, I power walked over 4.5 miles today in the course of going about my business. I walked to work, then I walked to lunch, and then I walked home (and drove back to work). I didn't change into gym clothes or anything. It was actually kind of chilly outside, so I had to bundle up and barely broke a sweat. I walked the streets and bike paths around my neighborhood for a solid 90 minutes, in total. During that time, I saw about four other people walking around outside and that was kind of sad.

Why don't people walk places more? It's an easy way to get decent exercise without a lot of fuss and gym memberships and other hassles. Plus, you kill two birds with one stone by getting exercise while you travel between point A and point B.

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