Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The Fit

A Typical Saturday with Mr and Mrs Average

By Tim Olds

How active is the average family on a typical weekend?

It’s 7:20 am on Saturday, and Michael and Jennifer Average are just waking up. Their kids, Jack and Chloe,1 will be asleep for another hour. Mike’s 38. He’s a technician. Jen, 36,2 works part-time in retail.3

How do Mike and Jen spend their Saturday? To find out, we looked at use-of-time profiles for 3567 Australians. We got them to recall their day from midnight to midnight in as much detail as they could.

Professor Tim Olds leads the Health and Use of Time Group at the Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.

The Virtual Time Game

By Tim Olds

Men and women would spend their time differently if given less or more time each day.

Professor Tim Olds leads the Health and Use of Time Group at the Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.

I Want Your Body

By Tim Olds

One-quarter of women would give up 3 years of their lives to be their ideal weight, but what do people believe is the ideal body?

In my undergraduate days I worked in a gym, a kind of apprenticeship that all exercise science students must go through in the hope that the oppressive triviality of the job will make them aspire to higher things, like injecting footballers with dubious ergogenic substances. One meets all types in the gym, including people like Zara.

Professor Tim Olds leads the Health and Use of Time Group at the Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.

In Search of Lost Sleep

By Tim Olds

Are we getting less sleep than we did in the past? And how much do we really need?

Try this: google “NGrams”, which searches millions of digitised books to track historical changes in the frequency of words and phrases. Now type in “not enough sleep”. You will see that the frequency of this phrase has risen from 46 per billion words in 1921 to a temporary high of 5995 per billion in 1944 (sleepless nights during the Second World War), plunging again to 1532 in 1967 (the summer of love), only to skyrocket to 7059 in 2000 – 153 times higher than the 1921 figure.

Professor Tim Olds leads the Health and Use of Time Group at the Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.

Death on the Instalment Plan

By Tim Olds

How much does watching TV, having a beer or walking to work alter your life expectancy?

Did you watch telly last night? If you’re like most Australian adults, you would have spent a couple of hours in front of the box. Well, you can knock 44 minutes off your life. That’s right, every time you sit down to a couple of hours of The X-Factor or Downton Abbey it means that you will die 44 minutes earlier than you would have otherwise.

Maybe you had a couple of beers as you watched the cricket? That’s OK, but the third one will cost you 30 minutes of life, the same as a Big Mac. Each cigarette costs you 15 minutes, let alone the time it takes to smoke it.

Professor Tim Olds leads the Health and Use of Time Group at the Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia.