We could gain one hour every day for our health through technology
When people see me presenting health trackers and wearables in my use, they often ask me how I have time for measuring my health. It is true that I’m quite an avid health tracker. Previously, I have described how I track sleep and stress or how you could live healthier with the help of technology. I also shared how I created a measurement system for my health parameters with the help of a single Excel spreadsheet. I have to acknowledge it could seem so that I spend every second of my free time either measuring my health or by thinking about how to live healthier. But I have to say, I only spend maximum one hour every day with managing my health.
Does it seem still too much? I totally get you. We all have busy lives with very crowded schedules. I understand if you have no idea how you could get an extra hour for your health when balancing your career with your family life already puts a heavy burden on you. I truly do!
This is the reason why I think the solution will come from technology and automation. You do not have to get up an hour earlier or to fight your boss for more free time, driverless cars, robots and remote technologies will do the job instead of you. Let me show you how!
What if we could use the hours currently spent on driving?
Did you know that American drivers spend an average of more than 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year? It is 48 minutes per day according to the outcome of a 2016 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. As Jurek Grabowski, research director for the foundation emphasized, the amount of time the average driver spends behind the wheel each year is equivalent to seven 40-hour weeks at the office. Moreover, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were a little over 139 million workers commuting 26 minutes each way to work on average every workday in 2014! That’s already 52 minutes per workday!
Did you know that drivers in Belgium spent on average 44 hours in congestion in 2015? INRIX has published its 2015 Traffic Scorecard, which analysed traffic congestion in more than 100 cities worldwide. It showed that heavy traffic numbs many European metropoles, and drivers are stuck in traffic jams for significant amounts of time. In the Netherlands, this number reaches 39 hours, while in Germany 38. So, it means that on average Belgian drivers spend around 7 minutes in congestion every day!
But what if driverless cars would spare the time spent on driving, on traffic jams or on parking for us? We could easily gain an hour for our health, if we could let our driverless cars bring us to our workplaces or anywhere we wish to travel.
What if we could have more time by sleeping better?
A survey in 2016 measured the sleeping habits of OECD countries together with China, India and South Africa thoroughly. Surprisingly, people in South Africa, China and Estonia all sleep more than 9 hours a day on average, while people in Japan and Korea only get 7.6-7.8 hours of good night sleep. The more than 1 hour in variation might be down to cultural and socialization issues, personal needs – but also to (mental and physical) health issues.
As we spend basically a third of our lives sleeping, it would be great to know how much time our body actually needs for sleeping. I’m sure you also experienced how random your sleep patterns are. Sometimes you get too much and you still feel groggy, sometimes you cannot go to bed early due to long hours of work or having a party somewhere, so you sleep very little. Sometimes you wake up three times during the night due to some disease, too hot room temperature or bad dreams.
Fortunately, there are already wonderful health trackers combined with the appropriate apps which can tell you exactly how much time you need for having the best night sleep. I personally believe the Pebble Time – Android for Sleep duo is unbeatable. When you would optimize your sleep, you might find that you could actually gain more time by just sleeping better instead of spending more time in bed. Try it!
What if robots could do the dishes instead of us?
It is an awfully familiar scene for many people, (sadly still) especially for women. Upon arriving home from work, there are tons of dishes to wash, dinner to prepare, cloths to wash and huge floor areas to clean (okay, only in the kitchen, since there is no time for more). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 American men spent on average 1 hour 25 minutes on household activities (maintenance, repair, gardening, interior cleaning, food and drink preparation etc.), while American women had to cope with similar issues for 2 hours 15 minutes every single day. While the difference is still blatant and I sincerely hope the gender-gap will lessen over time, the ultimate solution will come from robots and automation.
In the future, a swarm of household robots will take care of annoying and constantly recurring activities, so we could have more time for meaningful tasks. A team, from Columbia University, has recently unveiled a robot that can iron clothes, as a “novel solution” to regular ironing. Atlas, the robot designed and operated by the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), was thought by its team how to clean a house. Do you remember the scene from the iconic movie, The Fifth Element? How many little robots bustled about when Gary Oldman broke a glass? They cleaned everything, he didn’t even have to lift a finger. Imagine how much time you could gain if small robotic companions would take care of all the tiring housework!
What if we could reduce time spent on shopping?
Buying groceries or household items make up a lot of time in an average day. According to OECD statistics, in the UK women spend 40 minutes every day with getting all the stuff they need for themselves and the family. It is a record number though, American women spend 28 minutes, while Indian only 9 minutes with grocery shopping. The average is still around 20-25 minutes, which could be better spent.
In the future, we will do less and less shopping in person, which means more free time for other tasks. How? The already popular online shopping will be boosted by the spread of drones delivering packages. Even our shopping lists will be taken care of. Artificial intelligence algorithms will figure out what we would buy based on our previous shopping lists, and order the necessary items such as toilet paper, toothpaste or cans of mineral water.
What if we could reduce time spent on watching television and surfing aimlessly on the internet?
The UK Childwise Monitor Report 2016 found that 7-16 year-olds spend 3 hours online each day, while their 15-16 year-old peers surf 4.8 hours a day on the internet. They are watching less television in the traditional manner though: in 2000 they watched television for 3 hours a day, while lately the number dropped to 2.1 hours. However, it is only due to watching films and shows rather on phones or tablets. These numbers are no better among adults.
The New York Times in July, 2016 reported that the amount of time you spend consuming media — watching TV, surfing the web on a computer, using an app on your phone, listening to the radio and so forth — continues to go up. Nielsen found that in 2015, Americans spent about nine and a half hours each day consuming content this way. This year? The average is 10 hours and 39 minutes. It is mind-blowingly huge.
So what to do in order to reduce the aimless surfing on social media and (fake) news sites? There are already apps to limit social media addiction: with Offtime you are able to block distracting apps like Facebook, games and filter communication, while with Moment you are able to set daily limits. I recommend you to detox from time to time from consuming too much content on television and online. Suddenly you will realize how much more time you have for more important things – your health, just to mention one.
As my wiser friends remind me, you have time for the things you want to make time for. I agree with this statement, however, I wanted to show you that in the future it will be more difficult to find excuses for not taking care of your health. Since technology will allow you to get plenty of extra time in your day.