Digital Detox: Less Screen Time, More Body-and-Soul Time

No doubt, man – maintaining endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and exercise-supported peace-of-mind in the second half of our lives takes meaningful time. Four or more days per week.

Major challenge: “We never have enough time” is a truism that is nonetheless true. But if you’re determined to feel great, look good, be happy and live long…exercise needs to be a non-negotiable part of who you are.

So, what should you do?

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Digital detox? This is about time. Because, no doubt, man – maintaining endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and exercise-supported peace-of-mind in the second half of our lives takes meaningful time. Four or more days per week.

Major challenge: “We never have enough time” is a truism that is nonetheless true.  But if you’re determined to feel great, look good, be happy and live long…exercise needs to be a non-negotiable part of who you are.

So, what should you do?  Sleep less…spend less time with family and friends…spend less time at work?  The first two are not healthy.  And while there’s a whole (valuable) mini-industry focused on productivity and doing more work in less time, let’s assume here that less work time isn’t an option for you.

The answer is staring you in the face (too often, in fact):  spend less time looking at computer or phone screens for news and social media. Recent studies show the average American spending nearly three hours daily on Internet media (not to mention continued huge TV usage – that’s a subject for a different day).

We all want to stay informed and in-touch.  Important goals. But ask yourself:  where’s the daily point of diminishing returns? (e.g. is 30-60 minutes enough, and beyond that I’m really just wasting time and procrastinating?)

For example, my “vice” is political news.  But I realized so many articles are just re-mixes of the same news, speculations, etc.  Cycling (a few times a day, even) among the NY Times, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, Politico, Real Clear Politics and Five Thirty Eight was 95% redundant…and not serving my most important life goals.  Your version of this might be Facebook, or Fantasy Football sites, or whatever…

joyful-man-sunset

Brothers, with your thriving in mind, I say you can find 30+ minutes each day by consciously reducing media time, and you won’t diminish benefits you get from it.  Two specific suggestions:

⇒ Don’t dive into media at the start of your day.  For many, morning is the most productive on thought-demanding work tasks, and for some it’s a great time to exercise.  But whatever you do for the first 1-2 hours of your day, make it be driven by, and for the benefit of, you…instead of waking to immediately subjugate your time and mind to other people’s content and agendas.

⇒ Access media much less frequently during the day.  You’ll survive not “checking in” every couple of hours. With rare exceptions, not that much changes hour-to-hour or morning to evening.  I’ve found frequency habits reinforce themselves:  the frequent media checker feels compelled to check ever more frequently…and the purposeful media time “modulator” finds he can keep on extending the length of time between media plunges, and not be worse for the wear (he feels better, actually).

So, here’s how to make time for that run, trip to the pool or gym, yoga practice, hike with your dog – whatever serves you.  Avoid media during the first part of your morning, and use that precious time for other types of productivity.  Then be a “cautious investor” of your time with media for the rest of the day.  Use time you find for fitness, a little more sleep, time with your spouse or partner, focusing on a hobby.  In the end, these are the things that get us what we really want from our time here on the planet.

Try this for a month, and let the community here know what you think!

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” (Bob Marley, Redemption Song – click to listen)

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Fitness Planning & Gear

90-Day Plan for (Re)Starting Fitness as a Habit

At some point, nearly all of us have been there: you’re working hard, commuting, maybe traveling, investing a lot of time with family…and NOT GETTING MUCH EXERCISE, if any.

It’s hard to move toward fitness from this place, partly because of the time challenge. But equally or sometimes even more, this is what’s tough: simply knowing “where to start.” And feeling that uncertainty makes it very hard to decide to start, dude.

As a friend recently described falling out of his exercise routine, “once the ‘switch’ is turned off, it’s #$%&! hard to flip it back on again.”

So use the fact that you’re reading this as a kick in the butt, man. Not from me, really, but from your inner self that motivated you to read this. Flip that switch!

Here’s my ultra-simple suggestion for a 90-day plan.

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High-Intensity Intervals (HIIT) or Longer/Moderate Workouts? Why You Need Some of Each.

A lot of research shows great benefits can come from shorter workouts (~25-35 minutes total) with alternating periods of high intensity and recovery. So should we stop doing “traditional” runs, bike rides, swims and other cardio sessions, and just do high-intensity interval training (HITT)?

Based on my own experience, a review of what experts are saying, and some simple logic about “why we exercise,” I think the answer is to seek the best of both worlds here.

Incorporate some HIIT benefits into your routine, but do also retain some longer, moderate cardio workouts. Here’s why, and some tips for getting started.

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Fitness as We Age: 5 Ways to Combat Physical Vulnerability

In our quest to stay fit and vital as we age, sometimes we can’t help but experience feelings that counter-productively undermine our resolve.

It’s natural to fear and lament that our basic physical capabilities are diminished compared to our younger selves. But while this is true, you’re less over-the-hill than you think, man. This should be a manageable fear. Anyway, what are you gonna do about this – exercise less and let yourself get less fit because you can’t run a mile as fast as you could 20 years ago?

Also, like people of any age, we sometimes battle that sluggish feeling that whispers “don’t work out today…there’s always tomorrow.” But as we age, doubling down on fitness becomes ever more important, so effectively responding to that sluggish feeling is key.

Here’s the feeling that threatens our long-term body-and-soul health more than any other: the fear that we are getting more fragile, more VULNERABLE to injury and other activity-limiting aches and pains.

This is so dangerous because we can observe that it’s least partly true…but at the same time we can’t let it dictate our fitness habits and start a self-fulfilling downward trend. So how to deal with this shadow of vulnerability we feel? The trick is to neither ignore nor surrender to it.

Here are five things you can do starting now, to face up to this most-human feeling of vulnerability.

5 Comments
  1. […] injuries and other physical factors, plus the constant squeeze of time from careers, family and technology/media, slowly but almost inexorably pressure us to let certain other important flames burn low or go […]

  2. […] decades” fitness and nutrition plan. As one example of the many that exist here, check out these thoughts about controlling the role of email, media and “screen time” in our […]

  3. […] You DO have time to invest in fitness and activities that manage stress. Some of this time can be reclaimed from a subtle beast that has been sinking its claws into you, little by little, for years: email, […]

  4. […] CAN make time for walking (e.g. cut down on digital/screen time a bit, or make phone calls you’d make anyway, while […]

  5. […] I’ve “been there” on digital addiction, and I’m now a strong advocate of reducing time spent looking at a screen.  We can use the time for a more well-rounded mix of things, including fitness. […]

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