Archives for exercise

Physical Activity During the Recession: More Voluntary Exercise, Less Exertion

Last month, we wrote about data pulled from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), examining how Americans spend their lost work hours during the recession. While 32% of foregone work hours were spent watching TV and sleeping (not great, though sleeping is helpful), 15% of that time went to “other leisure,” among which, there is “listening to music” and “being on the computer,” as well as “exercise and recreation.”

Two new studies (both coauthored by Dhaval M. Dave of Bentley University) drill further into that ATUS data to paint a more complete picture of our exercise and physical activity habits, and ultimately, what impact they have on our health. The first finds that during the recession, we engage in more voluntary exercise, but have less exertion. Part of this has to do with the difference between exercise and physical activity — the latter is seen as the healthier of the two. (Better to walk to work everyday than do sit-ups twice a week.) With the loss of work, comes a loss of physical activity — particularly with the types of jobs we’ve lost. Read More »

On Payday, Watch Your Back

Another thing to add to the list of things to be paranoid about: your paycheck might kill you. Notre Dame economist William Evans, along with Timothy Moore from the University of Maryland, analyzed more than 75 million deaths in the U.S., and found something interesting.

On the first day of each month, the death rate goes up. Read More »

The Economics of Gym-Going, Part 2

From a reader named Laura Brown:

I recently joined a gym in a low-income part of Baltimore. For $10 a month, a person has unlimited access to the equipment — including treadmills that have individual televisions with about 20 different channels. For $19.99 a month, they have unlimited access as well as unlimited guest privileges. I’ve only been to the gym twice since I signed up, but both times (in the evening), the gym has been almost to capacity. However, despite the fact that it is almost impossible to find an open treadmill, many patrons don’t seem to be there to workout — most of them are obese, and the majority of the treadmills seem to run on the minimum speed settings — .5 mph — not fast enough for anyone to even break a sweat. I was pondering this yesterday during my jog, and it occurred to me that it is entirely possible that many of these people are using a gym membership (and the subsequent treadmill-television access) as a substitute for cable.

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Nudging People to Exercise

Ian Ayres has long advocated the use of commitment contracts in achieving dieting and weight loss goals. Alan M Garber and Jeremy D Goldhaber-Fieber write about their research on commitment contracts and exercise. Read More »

A Gym Where It Costs You to Skip a Workout

A lot of people who join gyms or health clubs find it very easy to stop going. Gym-Pact, a new program in Boston, aims to change that. “Gym-Pact offers what [co-founder Yifan] Zhang calls motivational fees: customers agree to pay more if they miss their scheduled workouts, literally buying into a financial penalty if they don’t stick to their fitness plans,” explains Susan Johnston of The Boston Globe. Read More »

The Mystery of the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon filled up in just eight hours — that’s 65 times faster than last year. Self-fulfilling prophecy or athletes outrunning the qualifying times? Read More »

Running New York

Ha! That headline probably got you thinking this was a post about Governor Cuomo. It’s not. It’s about an economist trying to keep fit despite the rising demands of work, parenthood, and the shrinking supply of energy that comes in your mid- to late thirties. Read More »

The Communist Approach to Obesity

Here’s one way to fight obesity: mandatory exercise, as Beijing has commanded again, after a three-year break. Read More »