Time is an interesting topic to explore. Its a commodity that people often complain they do not have enough of. But what do they actually want more of?
Do they want more time to do things they dont want to do?? Time for more chores? Time to workout? Time to Sleep?
Are they actually short of time or are they short of energy?
Should we be more efficient with our time or should we be more effective with it?
What should we be spending our time doing?
In todays fast paced world, many people feel like they don’t have enough time to do everything they want or need to do. Work, family obligations, social commitments and a plethora of other responsibilities can overwhelm our thoughts, leave us stressed out and struggling to focus or even decide on life’s priorities. As a result, we can neglect our own health and wellbeing. The belief we then hold is that we do not have TIME to prioritise self care.
We need to appreciate, the truth is, that healthy lifestyle practices and energy management can actually lead to greater happiness, fulfilment and overall wellbeing, and time is not the constraint many people believe it to be.
Effects on our health
When we neglect our health we can experience a range of consequences. These can include fatigue, decreased productivity and illness. To be really crude, whilst we can’t change the hours in a day or the days in the week, we can have significant impact on our lifespan (the total time we have) and our health span (the quality time we have)!
To be more positive (as I like to be) when we do prioritise healthy lifestyle practices we can see the range of benefits including increased energy, improved mood, increased focus, clarity, less indecision, decreased stress, increased chance of greater health span… arguably more time!
- Healthy lifestyle practices include:
- Regular exercise/activity
- Adequate quality sleep
- Healthy macro and micro nutrition
- Optimal hydration
- Sun exposure
- Dental hygiene
- Stress management techniques
- Energy management techniques.
Great news, this is a long list of things to improve your life and these are just the headlines and not complete. Bad news its a long list – this is going to take time and effort! Not true, especially when we consider some of these activities will reduce “lost” time. They essentially give you time back as well as extending* that all important health span (*without interference from external factors).
Time and our future self
I think its important to look at the time we have right now but also think about the time we have in the future. Time is infinite in the sense we have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… However is also ongoing and relative to experience and perspective. Potentially depending on your current age and predicament you may be presently more concerned by one than the other. I want to look at how we use our time now, but certainly can not overlook that we have the ability to add 10 to 20 years plus quality life by extending our health span (yes it is that significant). The choices we can make for both are quite often the same (so another a great use of time)!!!
So what do I suggest you try and ‘fit’ into a day with that in mind?
1 to 10 minutes per day on average. This ticks a number of boxes. Everyone may think they can breathe perfectly well. Afterall, we are not all suffocating. Different studies show that as many as 95% can not breath as effectively as we could potentially. This practice of intentionally controlling and manipulating your breathing patterns can improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
- It is a great stress management technique, reducing both stress and anxiety
- Improves focus and concentration (both time savers)
- Boosts energy levels
- Enhanced emotional regulation
- Support physical health by improving respiratory function and lowering blood pressure
- A fantastic sleep aid
- Improved immune system
- and can be combined with other activities like meditation to be even more effective and efficient with time.
Breathwork is one of the most easily accessible, free activities with almost unbelievable benefits. It must be a case that people can’t believe in it. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it already?
Breathing itself can also be greatly improved by developing and mobilising all the structures involved in breathing. I find that many people wanting to improve their ‘cardio’ actually benefit far more by addressing any limitations in the breathing capability, than just hitting more ‘cardio’. Much can be done without equipment but there are devices that can be used to improve your breathing with significant results too. I can discuss those another time.
There are many techniques to explore. I often go to the 4,7,8 breathing. Ensuring I inhale into the belly for 4 sec, hold my breath for 7 sec and then exhaling for 8 secs.
Exercise / activity / movement
I can not stress the positive impact enough. Many, many people attempt, or try things that lead to marginal gains. Great, love that, winning the small percentages lead to great compound gains. However, time spent on consistently exercising is a long way from marginal. The impact is seriously significant.
Back in the day we humans burned off 3000- 7000 calories per day. Modern lifestyle has dropped this average to around 2000. This drop in activity dramatically reduces the intake but also impacts the metabolism as well as having a knock on impact on variety of foods etc. We need to move more.
Throughout the week, I recommend, irrespective of goals, that everyone includes everything from steady state cardio, intervals resistance training and mobility. So it is not all HIIT everyday neither is it just long walks. Its not all heavy weights, light weights or building muscle. It is a combination and more. This combination is bespoke to individuals and can be determined by their current metabolism, limitations and goals. It should include it all. The most efficient exercise movements, the time effective types of training, controlling sugar spikes, the tricks to improve your fat burn, influencing hormones, exercise timings, hacks for integrating into lifestyle are all articles in their own right. For now, I hope to convince everyone to introduce a consistent daily movement plan.
To briefly justify this let me look at elements of fitness and their benefits to the general health span as opposed to specific individuals goals. I’ll assume everyone by now, if not already wants a long health span (to live a good quality of life for as long as possible).
How to spend time more wisely
So time spent improving the following is time well spent:
- VO2 peak – this is the maximum amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. It is a key measure of cardio respiratory health. A higher VO2 peak is associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and all-cause mortality (that’s right, a reduced risk of everything that can kill us!)
- Zone 2 cardiovascular base – allows for good cellular health, fat burn and the capability to reach a higher peak (think wider base supports a taller mountain). We know that if we target the correct hr for an individual, as opposed to a general algorithm, we can improve this zone by 20 bpm in a 6 week time frame where it is limited. It is suggested between zone 2 is between 60 – 70% of maximum heart rate. However, as I have access to the equipment I also test for this as it is surprising how many do not fit the norms.
- Eccentric load retention – loading the eccentric phase of a movement is a more effective way of gaining strength through movement. We blame ageing yet it is inactivity that contributes more to the loss of eccentric strength. By working this we prevent the age(inactivity) induced loss of the type 2 muscle fibres. This is important because it is this loss why people struggling going down steps even when they are still OK getting up. Once lost its is much harder to regain. Be strong now but don’t lose it either.
- General retention of muscle and strength. Strength can be retained with 1 session per week. Go 30 days and we start to see a decline in muscle and this decline can increase with age. Do all we can to gain it earlier in life and then look to at least retain. Grip strength is statistically linked to health span. Grip strength reflects overall muscle mass and physical fitness which in turn represents overall health and prevents chronic disease.
- Balance and Mobility. Mobility is the strength through a range of motion. Restrictions causes stresses else where and restrict our lifestyles. Balance stops us falling. Falls when you are young are not an issue. Falls when you are elderly sadly often trigger our end. The stats are quite scary. Can you put your shoes and socks unsupported i.e. stand on one leg? Give this ago you usually spend time on this everyday anyway!
- Sleep. There are many beneficial sleep routines and things to avoid before bed yet nothing beats being physical exerted. I’ve not met anyone struggle to sleep after a days hiking and skiing! Exercise doesn’t just improve the amount of sleep though, it greatly improves the quality.
As always, I like wherever possible to test and retest. We offer these tests to all our clients. To try yourself without our hi-tech equipment:
- Broad jump – test both the explosive power and the ability to decelerate (a great test of those type 2 muscle fibres)
- Putting your sock and shoe on whist standing – tests balance and mobility. Can you stand on leg for 30 seconds?
- A farmers walk
- Reaction test
These test can highlight where you need to spend time
Nutrition and time
When it comes nutrition, again this is worthy of several articles. Essentially, with time in mind, get what you need, address any deficiencies and do not just look to avoid excesses. If I were to make a global statement things to do (as opposed to not doing) that will improve the health span of the vast majority of us then I would recommend 6 things**. They are my focus on a daily basis and I generally aim to address these. The first 4, I achieve with ease via a supplemental health protocol that takes a matter of seconds out of my day. This is the latest in test-based nutrition so the test proves it is bioavailable and doing its job. No time to guess!
- Take an omega 3 supplement with a polyphenol
- Supplement the correct dosage of Vitamin D
- Consume 30g fibre a day. I use a supplement for 15g that contain a variety of chains to feed the gut bacteria throughout the length of intestines. Think assembly line, you need the whole length to be working.
- A multi-immune food supplement that supports periodontal health too.
- Consume between 1.2 and 1.8 g/kg of protein per body weight per day.
- Hydration – drink plenty of water and aim to drink earlier in the day. Last thing at night disrupts sleep. Increase your water intake a few hours prior to exercise. Sip during exercise and stock up post exercise to replenish and aid recovery. The exact amounts are individualised. People talk about 8 glasses as an estimate. However, a tip I suggest and use myself is too use much larger bottle and my simple mind finds it easier to track how much I’ve had.
These are the things I’d focus on doing. I’ve haven’t discussed what not to do nor have I gone into any bespoke deficiencies. The majority of the population will require what I have suggested. The modern diet, living and processed foods are causing chronic inflammation, dysbiosis (imbalance in gut health), Type 2 malnutrition and glycaemic mis-match. They all need addressing to avoid chronic disease and poor health span. The list of to-dos (above) can help with the first 3. However, the latter requires avoiding glucose spikes. In the interest of things to do as opposed not to.
Try this hack:
Eat your meal in this order vegetables, protein, fats and then carbohydrates. This is the same food but in this order it can help dampen the glucose spike. Time cost = zero.
Counting calories is a controversial topic. I didn’t want to get into this topic but I do spend plenty of time discussing it with clients. My quick answer or question for you is, have you had your metabolism tested? How do you know what you are counting. If you do know great, if not, you may be adding up to no real end and potentially wasting your time.
**I can not possibly be aware of all readers circumstances and these are just my opinions based on pooling others research, accumulating knowledge and practical experience. Please consult with a professional, whoever that may be??
Why these 6?
Quite simply and again with time in mind, they address chronic inflammation, cellular health (the building blocks of life), gut health, eliminate key common deficiencies and assist with keeping your mouth healthy.
Dental Hygiene – do I need to tell you to brush your teeth? I hope not, but to reiterate poor periodontal health is very closely related to overall poor health and impaired health span. Periodontal disease has been shown to be linked with several systemic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and pregnancy complications. There was a reason the advice was not to put our hands near our mouths during the COVID pandemic. The health protocol I take includes a multivitamin that also aids in keeping the mouth healthy. However, do I need to spend more time convincing people to look after their teeth and gums? Or actually, are people only taking this seriously because they want fresh breath a and Hollywood smile. Or is it because it is a habitual behaviour that is ingrained in us from childhood? Either way, wouldn’t it be great if all these other healthy steps were just as habitual?
Sun exposure – morning sun is best as it can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm which can improve sleep quality and mood. However, it will , importantly help provide the body with Vitamin D. The amount of sun exposure recommended does depend on a number of factors related to the individual, where they are and the time of year. A Vitamin D deficiency has a nearly endless list of detrimental consequences. Sun exposure is something you can easily double up with other activities, taking the dog out, meditative walks, family hikes, work calls, a run, breathwork.
Vitamin D is so important that it is part of my health protocol and I supplement and test to ensure i have the correct levels. I take a balance oil that means I get omega 3, polyphenols and Vitamin D in one shot. Very time efficient!
Mind and Body
Our mind and body are intrinsically linked. Everyone needs to appreciate how their mental health can impact the physical health and vice versa.
Knowing vs doing – Take action?
We are a result of the actions we take not the knowledge we have. Our actions can be optimised, ‘hacked’, abbreviated, scaled to fit, but they need to be actioned consistently. There are many techniques and tools that can be used to facilitate ‘finding the time’. Diarising, via a time managment app, an AI scheduler or old fashioned paper, just ensure the things that matter are scheduled.
Identify what matters and what you should be spending time on. With both clients and myself, I try and utilise 80:20 principle as well as prioritising the things that I enjoy and/or give me energy and avoiding those things that will ultimately rob me of energy or leave me demotivated. This isn’t to say I only do the things I enjoy in the moment. In fact, I do try and do something each day that builds resilience. A cold shower, is a great example of this. No matter how good I feel afterwards, how much I know the benefits of cold water therapy, I still find them hard, nearly every time! This in itself is one of the benefits though. Ticking off something challenging like this earlier in the day also really pays dividends the rest of the day as you feel you can conquer anything.
Setting goals I’ll discuss the different types of goal setting along with the pros and cons another time, the important thing here is to look at what you want/need to see on your journey.
Make sure you feel the day with positives. i mean that in in the sense of positivity but also in he sense of filling it up rather than removing things. However, also try and get out of you comfort zone at least once.
Do things with meaning and purpose. Don’t waste time. This absolutely doesn’t mean don’t relax and be hyper-productive, quiet time has its purpose
Appropriate exercise, correct nutrition and sleep are all interrelated. They are all worthy of our time and attention. If there was just 2 of them we could be talking chicken and egg scenario. If you sleep well you feel more like exercising and you will eat better as you’ll not confuse tiredness with hunger. If you eat and drink better and at the right times you’ll feel like exercising and sleep better. We have to be mindful of all 3. However, unlike the chicken and egg analogy, I know that if exercise is prioritised then other 2 will often follow and fall into place. So you now have just 1 action to focus on. Make time for exercise.
If you have any questions about this blog or would like to work on managing your time, please contact the team on 01344 875527