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Monday, March 25, 2013

It's (NOT) About Time!

I was reading a fellow health and fitness blogger's post this morning that perpetuated the commonly held notion that the biggest hurdle on most peoples path to fitness is not having the time.

While I agree that time may be what people report this hurdle to be (ie the story they tell themselves to feel that their lack of fitness is beyond their control), it dramatically oversimplifies the issue.  It is clear to me that TIME, isn't the problem.  So what then is the problem?

The problem is that fitness takes effort.  I am among the fittest people on the planet (I know it sounds cocky, but come on, it's true! (-:  ) and spend only one hour - about six tenths of a percent of my time - dedicated to my fitness. Time alone (or the lack thereof) cannot fairly foot the bill for peoples poor health and fitness.

This begs the question, however, as to why - if time isn't an issue - our population is so unhealthy. Here's where the complexity comes in.  Time becomes the scapegoat because as an excuse it still seems to have legitimacy in terms of cultural perceptions. Everyone knows about being busy.  But the truth is that consistent and limited durations of exercise can and do produce dramatic benefits.  Minutes, not hours, actually matter.

Psychologically, however, people want to see and feel results. For  most of us, external validation is required in order to do the difficult work of making positive changes.  And for most of us, there is a 'window of opportunity' during which those results need to be noticed to provide the incentive we need to have these changes stick.  The time excuse is only valid in the context of these other variables - the level of work needed to produce visible results (external validation) within the window of opportunity for low volume programs is pretty high.  This means that the paths to success are either time intensive (at more moderate/accessible intensities) or effort intensive (at accessible, even for busy schedules, time). And yeah, I know, i just did my own oversimplification (-:

So the truth of the matter is that when people say they don't have 'enough time' to exercise/get fit/be healthy, what they really mean is:
"I don't have the will/mental ability/determination required to consistently produce the efforts needed to reach a point of where I'd see/notice significant enough visible/physical changes within the temporal timeframe during which i'll begin to need this external validation in order to produce lasting positive alterations in my behavior.  Oh, and yeah, I also don't have the time required to make these changes appear by working out at the intensities that i do have the will/mental ability/determination to sustain".
Although I suspect this may come off sounding pretty harsh, it's not meant too.  In truth, producing noticeable results in shorter time does require more difficult work, and I'm not judging folks that aren't able to consistently do it. I do feel, however, that taking a bit more ownership of the problem is an important step in the dialogue and that without correctly identifying the real dynamic at play the burgeoning promotion of lower volume training methodologies that are aiming to 'eliminate the time excuse' won't work.

Because, in truth, it's not really about time at all.....

1 comment:

  1. When I worked full time I exercised every day, 5-6 days a week. Now I'm retired and I find it difficult to get in the rhythm of daily exercise. I want to, but I don't. I know getting started is the hardest part. I also know exercise provides a psychological boost that I truly miss. But TIME is not my problem!