5 interesting ways physical activity can save you time every day

Just 1 in 5 Canadians are active enough each week. Ask the other 4 why they don’t move more and they’ll likely all say the same thing—there’s not enough time. 

What’s interesting is that active people often see physical activity as a way of saving time. If you Google productivity tips right now, you’ll find endless lists of tips from entrepreneurs, CEOs and productivity experts, and almost every single one of them will repeat the same thing—get active. Busy people who need to be productive prioritize physical activity precisely because they have no time to waste.

Believing that you don’t have time to exercise is a barrier. In fact, it’s probably the most common barrier there is. Yet, far from taking up minutes you don’t have to spare, physical activity is actually a great way to maximize the few you have.

5 Ways Physical Activity Can Save You Time

To meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults need 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity each week. If you do the math, that works out to be just 1.5% of the over 10,000 minutes you have each week. Or if you want to talk waking hours, it takes 2.5 of the 112 you have each week. Any way you slice it, it’s not a lot of time.

Yet, if you can find that 1.5% in your schedule, the time-saving benefits can be massive. Here are five important ways physical activity can save you time in the long-run:

1. Increased Productivity

As mentioned above, physical activity has become a common productivity tip, and for good reason. The benefits to your brain are immediate, comprehensive, and compound over time. People who exercise regularly are more focused, attentive, and creative. They can remember more, concentrate for longer, and solve problems faster. They have more energy and are typically more positive.

Taking half an hour out of your morning to go for a run or lift weights can dramatically impact the rest of your day, leading you to manage your time better, use it more wisely, and ultimately, be more productive than if you had skipped the workout and went directly to work.

2. Fewer Sick Days

Being sick is never fun for a bunch of reasons, but on top of everything, it’s a terrible waste of time.

Regular physical activity is a fantastic way to relieve stress, strengthen your immune system, and improve your overall wellbeing. As a result, physically active employees take 27% fewer sick days. All those saved days add up to a lot of saved time.

3. Quicker Commute

Have you ever tried escaping the clutches of downtown Toronto at 5 o’clock on a weekday? Cars are great, but when in it comes to getting to school or work in big cities, bikes are typically faster. Even compared to public transit, cycling often takes the same amount of time. Plus, you’re commuting and exercising simultaneously. That’s an efficient use of time.

4. Longer Life  

A recent study on the life-lengthening effects of running suggested that it adds so much time to your life that you’re actually gaining minutes each time you go out for a jog. Though you can’t technically run your way to immortality, it can certainly give you more time. And make that time more enjoyable.

More generally, regular physical activity has been shown to be one of the single best things you can do to live longer. Sitting in front of your television for an hour, on the other hand, has been shown to shorten your life by an additional 22 minutes. This translates to roughly 4.8 years off your life if you watch TV for 6 hours a day. Safe to say, if you’re looking for a way to get more time on this planet, devoting a few minutes to heart-pumping physical activity is a no-brainer.

5. Slows Down Time

One of the most interesting ways physical activity can save you time is by slowing it down.

Almost everyone can relate to the feeling of time passing by more quickly as we age. One of the main reasons this perception exists is that as we grow older our brain pays less attention. Because most of our days are spent doing things we’ve already done and going places we’ve already been, there’s no reason for our brains to remember every single detail. As a result, time seems to go by more quickly.

Physical activity helps reverse this perception in two ways. First, it helps with your attention span. Because moving used to be essential for survival, our brains are good at remembering movement. As a result, getting active is a great way to make your brain pay more attention. Studies have shown that active people have longer attention spans and are generally more engaged in life.

Second, physical activity opens the door to new experiences. It leads you to explore new places and try new things. As any psychologist would tell you, trying new things is a fantastic way to get your brain to pay attention and, as a consequence, slow down your perception of time.

Far from being a waste of the few spare moments you have, physical activity is one of the best things you can do to save time each day, enjoy more days on earth, and make them all seem longer.