Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Exercise or make dinner? Study finds adults trade one healthy act for another

More time spent preparing food is linked to less time on fitness

American adults who prepare their own meals and exercise on the same day are likely spending more time on one of those activities at the expense of the other, a new study suggests.

The research showed that a 10-minute increase in food preparation time was associated with a lower probability of exercising for 10 more minutes – for both men and women. The finding applied to single and married adults as well as parents and those who have no children.

Researchers analyzed nationally available data on more than 112,000 American adults who had reported their activities for the previous 24 hours. Of those, 16 percent of men and 12 percent of women reported that they had exercised on the previous day. And men spent, on average, almost 17 minutes preparing food, compared to an average of 44 minutes for women.

The average time spent exercising for the entire sample of adults, including those who did not exercise, was 19 minutes for men and nine minutes for women.

This means that the average respondent, male or female, spent less than an hour on both exercise and food preparation on the same day.

By inserting the data into statistical models, the researchers determined that there is a substitution effect for American adults who participate in these two time-consuming health behaviors on the same day.

"As the amount of time men and women spend on food preparation increases, the likelihood that those same people will exercise more decreases," said Rachel Tumin, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in epidemiology in The Ohio State University's College of Public Health. "The data suggest that one behavior substitutes for the other."

The findings suggest that public health recommendations should not be made in isolation of one another, but should take into account the time available to devote to health-promoting behaviors on a given day, Tumin said.

"If we assume, for example, that adults have 45 minutes of free time to allocate to health-promoting behaviors, maybe we need to look at that holistically and determine the optimal way to use that time," she said.

Tumin presented the research Friday (4/12) at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in New Orleans.

Using data from the American Time Use Survey, a U.S. Census Bureau assessment of how people spend their time, Tumin and colleagues analyzed a sample of 112,037 adults who had provided responses between 2003 and 2010.

The researchers then identified leisure-time exercise and all activities related to food preparation, and divided these activities into 10-minute blocks of time for the purposes of statistical analysis.

Their main finding regarding time devoted to food preparation and exercise for adults: Rather than complementing each other, these two behaviors tend to substitute for one another in terms of time. This trend was true for single and married men and women, regardless of the presence of children.

One other finding stood out for single, childless men. In their case, 10 additional minutes of food preparation was associated with a 3 percent increase in the likelihood that these men would not exercise that day. In other words, Tumin said, more time spent preparing food led to a higher chance of not exercising on the same day.

"There's only so much time in a day. As people try to meet their health goals, there's a possibility that spending time on one healthy behavior is going to come at the expense of the other," she said. "I think this highlights the need to always consider the trade-off between ideal and feasible time use for positive health behaviors."

Tumin acknowledged that because the data in the national survey capture only one day's worth of activity, her analysis cannot determine if some people devote one day in the week to extensive meal planning as a way to free up their other days for exercise.

Even so, she said, there is plenty of evidence that time is scarce for most American adults, especially those who work full-time and have children. Previous studies have also shown that time spent preparing food and being physically active have declined in recent years. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated public health recommendations detail the many ways in which Americans can behave to improve their well-being.

Some of those behaviors take little or no time at all, including not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol intake, reducing fat in the diet and increasing fruit and vegetable intake. Exercise and food preparation, on the other hand, require an investment of time to be most effective.

"For time-intensive behaviors, public health officials may need to triage their recommendations by how much total time they think people have to spend on these activities each day," Tumin and her colleagues concluded. "If adults have a set time budget to devote to healthy behaviors, then recommendations should be tailored to make efficient use of that time budget."

Co-authors of the study include Lindsey Asti and Sadie Palmisano, graduate students in the Division of Epidemiology in Ohio State's College of Public Health, Ananya Jena, a researcher with Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dmitry Tumin, a doctoral student in Ohio State's Department of Sociology.

Contact: Rachel Tumin, (614) 366-5463; (Email is the best way to reach Tumin.)

Written by Emily Caldwell, (614) 292-8310;

Note to reporters: Tumin's presentation is part of Poster Session 5: Marriage, Families and Women, from 9-11 a.m. (CT) April 12 in the Napoleon Exposition Hall, third floor, Sheraton New Orleans. Tumin will be at the PAA meeting on Thursday and Friday. To reach Tumin at the meeting, send her an email or call Emily Caldwell at (614) 292-8310.

Rachel Tumin | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>