Society

Americans have plenty of time to work out but most would rather spend it looking at a screen instead

Young adults doing exercises at the fitness club

A new study has found that while Americans have plenty of time every day to exercise, most don’t — they’d rather spend it staring at a small screen on an electronic device.

Interesting, when asked about why they skip physical fitness, most people will blame their demanding jobs, busy schedules, and family responsibilities as taking up too much of their time to make it to the gym on a regular basis.

But the RAND Corporation found that on average, most Americans have a spare five hours each day.

In fact, men have more free time on a daily basis than women, the study found, but no gender or economic group is spending even 7 percent of their free time on physical fitness.

“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,” says study co-author Dr. Deborah Cohen, a physician researcher at RAND, in a press release. “But we found no evidence for those beliefs.”

RAND researchers referenced information that was initially collected by the American Time Use Survey, a federal program that tracks how a representative sample of modern American families spend their days.

One family member each is routinely asked to record what they do over the course of a 24-hour period.

For the study’s purposes, data on 32,000 Americans over 15 years of age was collected between 2014 and 2016. Study researchers were extremely strict on how they defined ‘spare time’ — things like self-hygiene (showering, brushing teeth), grocery shopping, household chores, and child care were not classified as impeding on free time.

Even after accounting for differences in age and racial groups, RAND researchers noted that no group reported any less than 4.5 hours of free time each day.

“Increasing the public’s awareness of how they actually use their time and creating messages that encourage Americans to reduce their screen time may help people to become more physically active,” says Cohen. “These findings suggest getting Americans to devote at least 20 or 30 minutes each day to physical activity is feasible.”

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