To be completely honest, I don’t know the exact research behind why the U.S. government says 30-60 minutes of activity of 5 days of the week is the sufficient amount to be healthy. I’m sure there’s plenty of research to back it up, but despite my best attempts, I couldn’t find the proof.
(I’d like to think it was because of their due diligence in consulting so much research and so many scientists weighing in that it’d be impossible to cite ALL the sources.)
Their exact recommendations can be found in the Physical Activity Guide which has been around since 2008 (they’re now on the 3rd edition of it). They recommend on a weekly basis to get 150-300 minutes of physical activity in but I think it’s easier to think about it as 30-60min in 5 days.
Even 30 minutes of daily physical activity (7 days) is less than half of the energy expenditure we were made for though. I mean literally made for – our genes were coded to support at least twice as much as that. Think about how our ancestors had to walk 5-10 miles per day just to eat. And that’s every day, just to eat. It doesn’t even take into account meeting friends out for dinner (did they do that back then?) or meeting up for an axe throwing date (not sure if survival skills counted as dates in those times).
I have to walk at most 5-10 steps at any given time to find some food. Imagine having to walk for hours each time you wanted a handful of chips or a soda from the fridge. I’d be rethinking how badly I wanted those Doritos and Diet Coke.
It’s A Mental Thing
Back to the 30 minutes though – without the research it seems kind of arbitrary. But it’s estimated that less than 10% of American adults meet the physical activity guidelines outlined above. On a pass/fail we’re failing HARD.
And I think it’s because it seems like a really big time commitment when we’re all so seemingly pressed for time anyways. Wouldn’t we all love an extra 30 minutes in our day? Of course!
But when you break it down into how much time we’re actually referring to, 30 minutes only equates to 2% of your day.
Ever thought about it that way? My mind was blown when I did the math.
24 hours in a day x 60 minutes = 1,440 minutes
30 minutes out of 1,440 minutes = 2.08333% of your time
So while at first glance, finding an ‘extra’ 30 minutes seems impossible. But when we’re talking about just carving out 2 measly percent of your time for something that can make such a huge difference, it doesn’t seem like such a big ask.
You’re Worth It
Notice above I mentioned it being an ‘extra’ 30 minutes. That’s because most of us are used to putting everyone and everything else first.
Kids? They’ve got endless demands on your time. Significant other? We love them and will go out of our way for them. Parents? They raised us, so we kind of owe them, right? Work? That’s our livelihood so that’s a must.
Where does it end though? Where do you take a stand and declare that you’re worth 2 measly percent of your time!?
Because what happens when you fall ill or in poor health? Those other people/things that we’re trying to care for so well – we won’t be able to care for them. That old saying rings truer than ever – YOU CAN’T POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP.
Sure, you may have your health today and maybe tomorrow. But what about in a year or in five years? What happens to you after years of neglect for your health and wellness?
Remember, it isn’t just about being free of an illness, it’s about feeling GOOD! You’re worth feeling good. Those you care for will be better off when you feel good. By taking care of you, you ARE taking care of them.
It Doesn’t Take Much
Obesity related conditions (cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, insulin resistance, sleep apnea, inflammation) improve with just a 5-10% body weight loss. And that’s achievable with 30 minutes of daily activity (2 ‘measly’ percent of your time).
So don’t wait until you have an ‘extra’ 30 minutes in your day. MAKE the 2 percent a priority so the other 98 percent can be even better. You’re worth it. And if you don’t believe that yet, I’ll believe enough for you. You’re worth 2 percent of your own time.