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Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. – Laura Vanderkam

Welcome to the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, week 3. This week we’ll be focusing on Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m.

Time management is also energy management. We cannot make more time, but we can do more and show up as our best selves when we have more energy. Some of this is holistic (see Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime) but it turns out we can also boost energy levels whenever we hit a slump. Even short bursts of physical activity have been shown to massively increase people’s energy levels (in one study, from a self-reported 3 on a 10-point scale to a 9, which then stayed north of 6 for more than an hour). These boosts are comparable to or better than the caffeine, candy, or cigarettes that people might instead reach for. Physical activity is also a known mood booster. People spend incredible amounts of time and money trying to make themselves feel happier and more energetic, and here we have something free that is like a magical reset button for the day.

This brings us to Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. Aim to get at least 10 minutes of physical activity in the first half of every day. Most people walk, but you can do whatever works for your situation or physical abilities. This isn’t about trying to lose weight or becoming a regular at a 6  a.m. boot camp (unless you want to do that). It’s about taking advantage of the magical reset button. Why 3 p.m.? It’s a natural low point in people’s energy levels during the day, so if you haven’t moved by then, 3 p.m. is a really good time to do so!

Going for a walk (or some other form of activity) is pleasurable and beneficial in its own right, but this rule has a secondary purpose. Planning in an activity break helps develops a strategic mindset. It requires surveying your day and seeing where the space might be, and what times are available and what are not, and asking what you can do with these minutes. Doing this can remind you that you are in charge of your time. Maybe you don’t control every minute, but you probably control some minutes. If you can fit in a 10-minute walk break, maybe you can fit in other things too!

So, this week, commit to doing something, every day, by 3 p.m. I have really found this habit to be beneficial. I’ll be slogging along, realize it’s 2:30 p.m., and go outside for a quick walk (or sometimes a run). I return ready to figure things out. I’m guessing you’ll feel this way too.

Do you move by 3 p.m. each day?

Photo: One wintry way to move by 3 p.m.! 

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