HealthWorks! Healthy Living Series: Sedentary Time
by The Center for Better Health and Nutrition/HealthWorks! at Cincinnati Children’s
Amanda Gier, Exercise Physiologist: “At some point during the last few years, you may have heard the phrase ‘Sitting is the new smoking.’ This phrase was coined by the director of a large, well-known and respected medical network. Well, he specifically mentioned sitting. This applies to all sedentary time. Sedentary time is any time spent sitting or lying down while awake. It often includes screen time, such as watching TV, working on a computer or using our phones. But it also includes activities such as homework, reading, drawing and quietly playing with toys. Many studies have found a link between large amounts of sedentary time and an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and early death. What’s scary is that this risk often exists even for people who get enough daily exercise. So while we work very hard with you and your child to come up with daily exercise goals, we also need to work to limit sedentary time.
Studies have found that overall sedentary time contributes to health risk, but average length of sedentary bouts carries the higher risk. Most experts suggest taking a movement break after every 30 minutes of sedentary time to lower risks.
Let’s talk about how this can look for your family. While you can’t control your child’s sedentary time at school, you can help them at home. One way to decrease daily sedentary time is to encourage more active play. Send your kids outside.
If children are outside, they are more likely to be active. indoors, encourage active video games, like the Wii and Connect. Turn on music and dance. Make space in the basement for kids to jump rope, do gymnastics or play with a small indoor basketball hoop.
If your child is engaged in sedentary activity, help them set a timer to go off every 30 minutes and encourage them to get up and move around for 5 minutes. They can jog up and down the stairs, do jumping jacks, dance to a few songs or walk around the house a few times.
If your child is watching a TV program with commercials, set a rule that everyone has to move during the entire commercial break. Have your child sit on a stability ball and bounce while watching TV or playing video games.
Remember, these breaks from sedentary time don’t replace daily exercise. Your child still needs at least 60 minutes of physical activity, exercise and active play in addition to movement breaks after every 30 minutes of sitting. Together, these will help lower the risk for health problems as your child gets older.
The funding for these videos was in part provided by Master Han and the Han’s White Tiger Tae Kwon Do Annual Break-A-Thon. Thank you!