Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?
Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?
Original image from Pexels

As I continue writing my No Excuses Fitness book, my goal on this blog is to post an article about fitness at least once a month.

Over 4 years ago I wrote an article about how much time we all need to dedicate to being physically active. This is an update to that post.

Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? Go ahead, count them. Seems like a lot.

To briefly summarize, within this 168 hours, 40 hours are used for work, school or your vocation. This is for an average person. Sleeping uses up 56 hours in a week, which equals 8 hours per night, if we are lucky. What is left over is 72 hours a week for personal care which includes leisure time.

Your challenge is to find three hours a week for physical activity. Out of 168 hours in a week, three hours should be do-able. I created this info-graphic to show how the hours are broken down.

Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

Let’s tackle this step-by-step.

Step 1: Assess your health. Are you overweight? Are you unable to exercise due to a medical condition or disability? Do you simply need more motivation to be physically active?

Step 2: Identify barriers preventing you from exercising. Some of these barriers include geographical, environmental and structural.

Geographical barriers can be where you work in relation to where you live. Do you have a long commute to and from work? This can eat into your personal care time. Do you live in a part of the country with extreme weather conditions that may prevent you from simply walking outdoors? If your workplace does not have amenities like a gym or area for exercise, this can be a big deterrent to finding time for physical activity.

Environmental barriers include poor access to parks or other leisure spaces in your community. Perhaps there are very few places to safely ride a bicycle near where you live. If you live in an urban environment, walking may be a great exercise option, but that can be hampered by weather, crowds, events, and other deterrents.

Structural barriers to physical activity can be money, transportation, clothing and equipment, or even the skills to participate in an activity.

Lack of time is the ultimate structural barrier.

Step 3: Assess your interests. Simply put, what do you like to do? What were some fun activities you enjoyed as a young person? Are you interested in trying these activities again as an adult? Once you identify your interest, are there barriers getting in your way? This is where many folks talk themselves out of trying something new.

Photo by on

Step 4: Take action. Now that you have chosen your ideal fitness activity, let’s say “walking”, how will you do this? What time of day works best for you? Can you walk on your lunch break at work? Can you devote 30 minutes, 6 days a week (equals three hours) to walking? If not, how about one hour per day, three days per week? Thirty minutes per day is the minimum time for optimum cardiovascular fitness.

And yes, you can break up the 30 minutes into smaller increments during the day. Other action steps include taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. While at work, walk the long way around to the break room or to a meeting. Even adding a few extra steps can add up to small time increments getting added in to your fitness time.

day planner

I work on my university campus two days a week. For my night class, I purposely park close to where the classroom is, so when I finish, I can walk safely to my car. But this means I have to walk at least 10 minutes to get to the building where my office is located. From the parking lot to the office and back to the classroom is at least 20 minutes broken up into 10. And I take the 4 flights up the stairs on days I’m not lugging my rolling cart.

Step 5: Mix up your routine once you take action. Add a few more minutes to your current workout. Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or boot camp. Adding a completely new and different type of workout exercises new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine. If gyms are not your thing, check into your local recreation center for exercise or active leisure classes.

Now that I am staring 60 in the face, I also recognize the value of strength training. Even just 20-30 minutes, two days a week of light weights can help strengthen your bones and muscles.

Woman lifting barbell

Step 6: Sustainability. Now that you have created an exercise routine, is it sustainable? If you get bored easily, examine why you are bored. For example, if you walk your dog through the same neighborhood day after day, it can get dull. Perhaps you can walk with a friend.

I started walking weekly with a friend from the gym who is also my hair stylist. We walk for no less than one hour exploring nearby neighborhoods and she graciously walks with one of my two dogs.

Joining structured fitness classes with regular attendees and instructors can also be an incentive.

women lifting weights

If the weather is uncooperative, take a walk in the nearest shopping mall (leave your $ and credit cards at home). Perhaps your community has a walking club associated with the neighborhood recreation center. Exercising with others is a good way to stay accountable and not give up. Plus, it’s FUN!

man and woman pushing stroller

And finally, take a good look at your time. How valuable is your health compared to the time you have left in the day? We easily get caught up in the hectic pace of life and allow our three hours of physical activity to be used up in other ways. Work and family obligations are tough to overcome.

Creating a simple daily schedule for your fitness time should be as high a priority as work and family. If you are unwell, you will not be able to work, or take care of your family.

See more of what other folks are doing for their fitness and health!

Janet Mary Cobb A2Z Holistic Self-care: A is for Ask

Sue’s Sizzling Toward Sixty and Beyond Active April

In our busy world, I encourage you to use your time wisely and claim your three hours a week for physical activity!

© Infographic and content copyright-protected. Some images provided by Unsplash

56 thoughts on “Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?

  1. Hey Terri! When you break it all down, it should be pretty doable for all. I got most of my exercise from running around with my dogs. I know I should do something else, but cardio is a good thing, no? I really need to work a bit more into my life but for now…….this is it. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great information Terri and when you break it down like that it doesn’t sound too much. I walk and cycle but I’m thinking I need to add some strength exercises in as well as I too am staring into 60 and beyond 🙂 . Shared for #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Terri a few years ago I would have been a bit freaked out by the idea of 3hrs a week of exercise, now I do twice that amount – not very full-on/all-out exercise, but lots of walking, tai chi etc and I’ve realized that it’s vital if I want to stay mobile, healthy and not turn into an overweight blob. So yes, 3 hrs a week is a great goal to aim for if you’re not there already.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the infographic and you are so right about 3 hours a week being such a small amount of time to devote to exercise and our health in the general scheme of things. But it can be hard to find in our pressurised world with so many sedentary things often taking our time away from being active. Note to self – get up right now and go for a walk! #MLSTL and Shared on SM


  5. HI Terri

    Love the infographic. I get my weekly allotment of exercise, but you just showed my where I may be wasting precious moments in getting the rest of my “TO DO List” completed (or even started).


    Liked by 2 people

  6. I often beat myself up for not being active enough, but I feel better now. I do get three hours of week of swimming in. Once it warms up we will also walk and bike more. It is so much easier to be active when you can get outside!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post Terri. I don’t really think too much about planning exercise because I walk a lot and am active outside in the usual run of things (it helps living in Hawaii!). But that step by step approach could help me in other areas where I’m much more of a foot dragger.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When you break it all down like that, 3 hours seems so doable, and yet there are weeks when we don’t seem able to find that time. My PC is having some back issues but he will be getting a treatment for them in a week. We are hopeful that will put new bounce in his step.

    Great post, Terri!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very thorough post Terri. Happy to report I ALWAYS make my weekly fitness goals, and usually my daily ones. I’m fortunate to be healthy and no longer work so it’s easier for me than most. I remember doing my runs in the dark after long days at the office – that was NOT fun!!! Hope you get lots of readers for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great article and info-graphic, Terri. Based on how you have put it together, I can see that you Fitness book is shaping up nicely – an informative and inspiring how-to book with a great layout and covering many different aspects of leisure and fitness.

    I love it how you point out that small steps work towards better health, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Mark and I always do that when we have an easy choice. We also park far away from stores and then walk. It’s extra exercise and Zesty stays away from other cars and car doors. 🙂

    Walking/hiking is our favorite activity as well. When we are not house sitting, we hike three to ten hours a week. To exercise different muscles, we go for bike rides. Well, usually there is another reason for that than muscle groups. When we house and pet sit, we walk every day as well, but it’s more boring (in the same neighborhood usually) and in smaller increments.

    By the way, did you know that the photo of the “calendar items” is mostly in Dutch? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Liesbet, I appreciate your encouragement! I know that you live an active lifestyle. Even when I worked, I made the time, but it isn’t always easy. LOL at that image…good eyes you have. I just liked the overall image 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love both the layout and contents of this post, Terri. Your blog posts are all looking incredible and are so comfortable to read.
    With two dogs, I get plenty of walking done every day, but I also enjoy cycling. I also take a mental note of the size of my portions when eating. And, of course, I keep my brain active by reading and doing puzzles.
    Plenty of great advice in your post for everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Great post, Terri! I’ve personal training, so I go to the gym 3 times a week, but it’s not only this that counts, the little things are more important and I only realized it recently, now I’m parking the car far so I can have a long walk in the morning and afternoon to go and come back from my office, and this month I started using the washroom on another floor, so I have a walk and some steps too in the middle of the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi, Terri – I love how you set a target that we all can achieve. Three hours per week of exercise is doable for just about everyone. And once we commit to that, we will very likely want to do more!
    I look forward to your Fitness Book coming out.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. thankfully I show some diligence to fitness regime. Recently I added 40 more mins to it doing yoga. It really felt a smooth and controlled day but i ended up leaving it. After reading this will start again from monday with no blue 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Terri great advice and I believe we all have time for physical activity but many don’t make it a priority. It is easy to incorporate physical activity into your day with incidental movement. Making your health a priority and scheduling in regular fitness workouts into your week is just as important as any other responsibility or appointment. It is being creative about your workouts and also being committed to a change in lifestyle. Thanks so much for the shout out and link to my #ActiveApril. Looking forward to reading your book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I might have read somewhere that scheduling physical activity into your day is easier than having to schedule a visit to the doctor as a result of not staying active! I’ve got a way to go on the book, but it is coming along. Thanks for your support, Sue!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s so important, and I find if we want to do it, we will find the time. Otherwise we find excuses!!
    That’s exactly why I have been loving the online yoga option!! Easy and convenient, and kinda no excuses…:)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’ve been really bad lately about not getting in enough walking/hiking. Your post is inspiring and pushing me to make the time to get moving. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Excellent and comprehensive article with great ideas, Terri. I’ve been walking for years and do get in the three hours. I love to walk my dog, but she is unpredictable around other dogs, so she gets walked by a younger, stronger dog walker. She used to be my motivation to get out daily, but I’ve gotten accustomed to going alone and enjoying the neighborhood, rain or shine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Susan, and I’m sure you get some good images being out and about! My 2-year old, 52-pound Boykin Spaniel can be a handful so I have a training collar for him and it keeps him walkable–lots of energy! When he looks at me with those golden eyes, it’s hard to say no to him or to Aero for their walkies 🙂


  19. Put this way, there’s really no excuse for not getting in some exercise. You’ve stated lots of opportunities, better, you’ve given the best reason for exercising – our overall health. Thanks for the push in the right direction, Terri

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I’ve been thinking exactly along these lines! I’ve been asking myself “Can I spend 1 of 24 hours a day exercising? Seems reasonable!” As for scheduling, because of my work being very driven by half-hour chunks that vary from day-to-day and week-to-week, I ‘schedule’ loosely for the week based on my breaks and then each morning confirm when I will ‘get-fit’. I’m a go-with-the-flow type of person, so NOT scheduling works best for me. Anyway, your ideas are GREAT! Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

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