Watch Less, Move More

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

How do you spend your free time? Many of us spend a lot of our free time in front of a television or computer screen. When you review your day, you may find that you wake up to the news or weather channel on TV. Then, you check your email or surf Facebook on the computer. Perhaps you go to work and return home for TV news and prime time programs.

Watching television occupies many kids and adults for several hours each day, and can result in less physical activity, more overeating, and a higher risk for an unhealthy weight. According to Kids Health, a child who spends more than four hours a day watching television is more likely to be overweight than one that watches less than two hours. 

Eat Smart Move More NC, has found that the number one reason given when people are asked why they are not more active is, “I don’t have time.” However, we spend 15 to 28 hours per week watching TV—about six times more than we do being physically active. While watching TV, we are exposed to lots of food ads for high fat, high sugar foods. We often snack while we watch, play or surf on the Internet, and many of us eat our meals in front of TV, without paying attention to how much we are eating or how full we are.

During National Screen-Free Week, April 30—May 6, turn off screen media including TVs, video games, computers, tablets, e-readers, cell phones and smart phones to get in touch with being unplugged. Trade TV time for activity time—walk, run, bike, or play.

Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less recommends these strategies for taming the tube:

  • Get the TV and computers out of the bedroom.
  • Plan how much TV you and your family are going to watch.
  • Set clear limits and be a good TV role model.
  • Make lists of activities you want to do instead of watching TV.
  • Don’t keep the TV on all the time. Tune into specific shows.
  • Eat together as a family without the TV.
  • Watch with your children.
  • Be mindful about commercials you see on TV and the Internet.
  • Move during commercials.

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences