The Surprising Truth about Exercise and Your Phone

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You probably think you’d exercise more if you could find the time. For years, even experts believed that busy schedules were a major obstacle.

However, a recent study discovered that the average adult has at least 5 hours of free time each day that they could be spending exercising instead of perusing their phone.

Maybe you think you’re an exception because you have small children or work long hours. However, the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Rand Corporation included such lifestyles. Maybe you suspect that the researchers forgot how much time you need for tasks like cooking and grooming, but they covered that too.

Managing your time more effectively could help you get in shape faster. Try these suggestions for cutting down on screen time and exercising more.

Cutting Down on Screen Time

You can set reasonable limits on technology and still have plenty of time to make phone calls and watch Netflix. Current guidelines recommend 150 minutes of exercise each week for adults, which works out to about a half hour 5 days a week.

Try these tips to limit your screen time:

  1. Track your time. In order to make positive changes, you’ll need to know how you spend your time now. Browse online for free apps or use a paper journal.
  2. Disable notifications. Visit social media and other sites once a day instead of responding to each update. You may also want to remove time wasting apps from your phone.
  3. Prioritise sleep. Set a curfew for your devices. Turn them off at least 2 hours before bed to prevent the light and mental stimulation from interfering with your sleep.
  4. Eat mindfully. Do you rely on your phone for entertainment during meals? You may eat less and enjoy your food more if you pay attention to what you’re consuming. Family dinners and lunch hours can also be opportunities to connect with others.
  5. Be selective. Turn the TV on only when there is something specific that you want to watch. Save binge watching for the most extraordinary programs (I know this isn’t specifically phone-related, but it’s still a screen).
  6. Find other hobbies. It will be easier to cut back on screen time if you have other activities planned. In addition to exercise, you could travel, read more, or go back to school.


Why are you posting photos on Instagram instead of going to the gym? The solution probably has more to do with motivation than with your schedule.

Use these techniques to fit more exercise into your day:

  1. Remember your purpose. Focus on your personal reasons for exercising. You may want to lower your blood pressure without medication or feel more energetic.
  2. Develop habits. Make exercise automatic, so you can avoid the temptation to skip a session. Wake up an hour early to start your day with a run or sign up for an ongoing weekly Tai Chi class.
  3. Find enjoyable activities. Design workouts that are pleasurable for you. That might mean playing tennis or climbing mountains.
  4. Invite a friend. Look for a workout buddy who will share encouragement and laughs with you. For more socializing, participate in group classes and online fitness forums.
  5. Set goals. If you’re becoming bored with the same routine, set challenges for yourself. You could create weekly targets for lifting more weight or train for a marathon.
  6. Move while browsing. What if you know you’re spending 5 hours a day online, and you plan on keeping it that way? You can still become more active by streaming fitness videos to exercise with or riding a stationary bike when you’re on the phone.

You do have enough time to exercise. Being more mindful about the hours you spend online can help you turn fitness into a lifelong habit that will make you happier and healthier.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash


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