It always seems like there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything you might want to, especially during the week. Eight hours (or more) of work and (hopefully) eight hours of sleep leaves another eight hours to do everything else. But most of our lives have gotten so busy that even though it might sound like a lot of time to spare, it ends up not being so. With daily chores, commuting time, showering and dressing, reading or TV watching, and trying to have a social life, is there any time to fit in healthy eating and fitness?
According to a new study from the Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, people tend to focus on one or the other—which isn’t the greatest when those behaviors are healthy. “As the amount of time men and women spend on food preparation increases, the likelihood that those same people will exercise more decreases,” lead study author Rachel Tumin said in a press release.
To be exact, the research showed that a 10-minute increase in food preparation time was associated with a lower probability of exercising for 10 more minutes. While the survey captured only one day of activity and therefore perhaps isn’t a clear reflection of the entire week, based on the many excuses I hear from my patients, I feel that this trend might apply to the other days of the week as well.
But you likely do have the time to cook and exercise. All it takes is a little prioritizing, plus learning to simplify things.
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Fitting in an hour of exercise three to five days a week should be doable. It’s all how you approach exercise: It doesn’t have to be at a gym or in fitness class if that doesn’t work into your schedule. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, park your car farther from your destination, take a walk during your lunch break, get off the subway or bus one stop earlier, roll out a yoga mat in your home, put on a DVD, listen to a podcast, or go out dancing with your friends on the weekend.
As for making food prep easy, remember you don’t have to cook like a chef from the Food Network, at least not on a daily basis. The fewer ingredients in your meal, the quicker the prep should be. You can buy your lettuce in a bag and your veggies already cut up or frozen. A grilled or broiled piece of fish or chicken slightly seasoned with a touch of olive oil takes no time to prepare, and a sweet potato in the microwave doesn’t get much easier. You can also spend a little extra time on Sunday making meals that you can reheat during the week. Let’s be honest, most of us should have a little extra time on a Sunday since there is no work.
The bottom line is how you choose to spend your time. One healthy behavior should not interfere with another, unless you allow it to.