Is Prep Time Cutting Into Your Exercise Time?

New data shows cooking at home may be cutting into our exercise time. If this dilemma applies to you, use our tips to make time for both exercise and meal prep.


Tomatos on cutting board

Photo by: Tomasz Grabowiecki

Tomasz Grabowiecki

Having hectic work schedules, family life, and a social life leaves us pressed for time when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Although folks are starting to cook more at home, new data shows that it may be cutting into our exercise time. Are we stuck in a new catch-22 or can we find time to do it all?
The Study

Data from the U.S. Census from over 112,000 U.S. adults found that when folks take an additional 10-minutes to prepare meals, they are more likely to exercise for 10 fewer minutes. This was found in both men and women, single and married people and those with and without kids. On average, participants spent an average of less than an hour on both exercise and meal prep on the same day. The big takeaway from this study is that one healthy behavior can take time away from another. It also highlights the importance of planning out your meals and exercise time.

Save Time In The Kitchen

It's tough to give up your workout time, especially when Americans designate so little to exercise. However, there are many time saving corners you can cut once you get into the kitchen. Plan out your weeknight meals on the weekend and have all your ingredients ready to go.

There are also ways to exercise if you're pressed for time or want to use those 10 extra minutes you have to prep a healthy meal:

  • Take a walk in the park or around the block during part of your lunch break.
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Stand or walk around your office when taking that long conference call.
  • Lift light weights while watching TV.
  • Catch up with a friend over a nice walk or bike ride, instead of meeting for coffee.
TELL US: How do you make time for both exercise and cooking?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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