We know kids need to get off screens and make room for play, but what about everyone else? According to a Google report Canadian smartphone owners estimate they spend an average of 86 per cent of their free time staring at one of the many screens they own, such as a TV, computer, tablet or e-reader.
With the majority of their free time spent being sedentary, there isn’t much room left for physical activity, which could be one of the reasons why only 20 per cent of adults are getting the 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity recommended per week.
Although sitting less and moving more reduces the risk and progression of many diseases and improves overall well-being, it’s hard to power down and change routine – especially when the number of screens and devices in our lives continue to grow, and we rely on the convenience of them all.
ParticipACTION ( a national non-profit organization whose mission is to help Canadians sit less and move more) is here to help by offering its top tips on how to stare at screens less this summer.
- Be mindful – if you can break the habit of mindlessly checking your phone whenever you have a few minutes, you will start to notice when and where you fall into these traps. Noticing your bad habits is the first step towards changing them;
- Record screen time vs. active time – take some time to observe how much time you spend watching screens versus being active. This will give you a good baseline for how best and where to make positive changes;
- Do it standing up – if you must check your phone or watch that “can’t-miss show”, consider standing, walking around or doing lunges while you do it;
- Re-consider which accounts absolutely need to be synced to your phone – the more accounts you have linked to your phone, the more likely you are to check them. Constantly being “in the loop” or accessible by others makes it really hard for you to step away and build some separation between you and your phone. While this isn’t always possible, depending on your job, you can also make it a rule to stop checking your work email after a certain time;
- Designate screen-free zones – if you make a concerted effort to “protect” certain areas of your home from screens, you’ll be less likely to default to always being on a screen. For example, start by keeping your phone out of your bedroom or away from the dinner table;
- Resist binge watching – Do you devour a television series in less than a week and then look for the next one to watch? Well, you are not alone. According to Netflix, on average, most of its members are finishing a season in a week. With new seasons of Orange is the New Black and Pretty Little Liars out on Netflix this summer, try to pace yourself through a series;
- Go cold turkey – Try going “screen free” for an afternoon, a day or a week-long vacation.
Cutting back on screens is half the battle – the other half is turning that sedentary time into activity. With the extra hours of daylight during the summer, why not go for a walk or hike, ride your bike, garden, play pick-up soccer or try out some of the 150 Play List activities.
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