Americans Have Plenty of Time to Work Out, They’d Just Rather Look at Their Screens

These survey results may encourage you to put your phone down and lace up those sneakers.

By MiniStocker/Shutterstock
By MiniStocker/Shutterstock

Who has the time to work out? Well, just about everyone, it turns out.

A new study by the RAND corporation gathered detailed information about how Americans spent every minute of their time down to how much time they spent brushing their teeth, shopping for groceries, and doing chores. (That info came from data collected by the American Time Use Survey). What did they find? Americans had plenty of free time. They’re just devoting much of it to scrolling on a screen: laptops, smartphones, TVs, you name it. In fact, no gender or economic group is devoting more than 7% of their free time to exercise or overall physical fitness.


In fact, even with differences in age and race, researchers found that no group reported any less than 4.5 hours of free time each day. (Men usually reported a half-hour extra of free time than women.)

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

And yet, according to the study, already published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, men spent just 6.6% of their free time exercising, and women a scant 5%. Men and women with higher incomes tended to spend more time on exercise and less time on screens than those with a lower income.

“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,” Dr. Cohen said. “These findings suggest getting Americans to devote at least 20 or 30 minutes each day to physical activity is feasible.

Originally published on The Ladders.

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