Lack of free time isn’t the reason most Americans fail to exercise

Brittany A. Roston - Oct 28, 2019, 4:13 pm CDT
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Lack of free time isn’t the reason most Americans fail to exercise

Though many people cite a lack of free time as the primary reason they struggle to exercise, a new study has found that trouble finding time to hit the gym isn’t the real reason most people fail to get enough activity in their day. Researchers with RAND Corporation found that Americans average around five hours of free time daily, with women having slightly less free time than men. Despite this, many struggle to fit in exercise because, the study claims, they spend too much time staring at screens.

Getting a bit of activity in every day — something as simple as spending 30 minutes on the treadmill — can have vastly positive effects on one’s health, according to a large body of existing research. Despite that, many Americans report spending too much time being sedentary during the week, putting them on track for high blood pressure and other potential health issues.

Though some overworked adults may truly struggle to find time to exercise, the RAND Corporation found that, on average, the vast majority of people have at least a few free hours every day. This time is primarily spent looking at the TV, phones, and other similar gadgets, according to the study, which found this excessive screen time was consistent across economic groups and gender.

These groups of participants spent less than 7-percent of their free time getting physical activity, according to the researchers. Study co-author Dr. Deborah Cohen said ‘we found no evidence’ that a lack of leisure time is the explanation for why most Americans aren’t getting enough exercise.

The data on how time is used was sourced from the American Time Use Study; it covered around 32,000 people ages 15 and older. According to the researchers, the definition of free time in this survey was fairly strict, meaning it didn’t include periods of time spent on things like grooming, playing with kids, self-care, cleaning the house, and similar.


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