Can you make your screen time equal movement time?
April 30, 2012
With two kids under six begging for my attention every spare minute of the day, it’s hard to resist the temptation to sit them down in front of a movie or the ipad.
Frankly I don’t see anything wrong with a little screen time. We all need a break. Feeding them popcorn and calling it “supper” can also be a reasonable choice on the occasional movie night in this crazy mayhem of balancing the demands of kids, job, husband and house that we call life.
But of course, everything in moderation. My husband and I limit our (still very young and therefore easier to control) kids’ screen time to weekends only and monitor it with a timer. In my mind, I try to balance their screen time with their movement time. One hour of Netflix equals an hour playing in the park. Fifteen minutes on the ipad equals a walk up the street.
Because my kids don’t have screen time during the week and because they spend almost every waking second running, jumping, bouncing, dancing and generally constantly buzzing around like some sort of Mexican jumping bean, balancing their screen time with their movement time is that not that challenging.
If my kids can move as much as they mouse, can I? Can you? Can you make your movement time equal your screen time – everyday - for one week?
Now clearly it will be difficult to match screen time at work with movement time at leisure. If your job demands you be at your computer for hours a day you need to combat that with regular standing, stretching and looking out a window.
What I am talking about is screen time at leisure. How much time do you spend each day on Facebook? Surfing the net? Playing games? How many hours a day do you watch TV?
This isn’t a judgment call. Everybody watches TV or surfs the net. I’m suspicious of people who claim not to. Nothing wrong with it. But perhaps we should consider practicing the same amount of moderation we insist for our children. Not because these activities are inherently bad, but because they tend to take up what precious leisure time we have.
In 1945 Joseph Pilates lamented in Return to Life through Contrology (the name he originally gave to what is now simply called Pilates), “However, many of us at the end of our daily work lack sufficient energy at night for recreation. How many of us simply spend the night routinely reading the evening newspaper? How many of us are entirely too exhausted to read, even occasionally, an interesting book, visit our friends, or see one of the latest motion pictures?”
On the whole we are a lot less fit now then we were 60 years ago when Return to Life through Contrology was written. It’s a bit of a chicken and an egg situation. We are so physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day that all we can do is flop down in front of the TV or with out smart phone. Yet such activities do not typically refresh us, and they take time away from feel good activities.
Be honest. How much time do you spend vegging in front of the TV or on the Internet everyday. Put a timer on and check it out. Then, see if you can match that amount of time with physical activity. It doesn’t have to be formal exercise. Do some gardening. Go for a bike ride. Walk somewhere instead of driving.
My guess is that if you monitor yourself with the goal of making your screen time equal your movement time, you will actually have to substitute some screen time with movement time.
The other day as my husband sat down with the ipad, my son said asked, “Did you put the timer on Dad?”
I challenge you, this week, to put the timer on.
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