Weight Management

Decrease screen time

To help manage your body weight, reduce the amount of time you spend being sedentary. This includes time spent in front of a screen - including watching television, playing video games, and using the computer.

People who spend more time being sedentary, particularly watching television, are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Most people can't change how much time they spend on the computer for work or school, but you can decrease your screen time during other times of the day and on the weekend.


Get started decreasing screen time:

  • Track how much time you spend in front of a screen. Log the number of hours you spend in a week (outside of work or school) watching television, playing video games, or using the computer.
  • Develop a screen time budget. Set a goal to reduce screen time. Plan to watch shows you'd like to see. Write down a few options of things you could do instead of watching television, like taking a walk around the block, gardening, or playing with your dog.
  • Use the time you watch television to be physically active in front of the television. Walk in place (or on a treadmill) while watching your favorite shows, or do jumping jacks during commercials.
  • Limit eating while watching television. Many people overeat when watching television because they aren't thinking about what they are eating - they stop eating when the bowl or bag is empty, instead of when they have had enough! If you choose to eat while watching television, portion out a small amount.


Stumbling Blocks:

Concerned about decreasing screen time? Here are some common "stumbling blocks" and ideas to help you overcome these barriers:

"I'm exhausted after work and just want to sit on the sofa!"

It can be difficult to break your routine. Start by making small changes. For example, do you watch three hours of television most nights? Try cutting out just one program, and use the time to take a walk or play with the kids. Find activities that you enjoy and will look forward to – anything that gets you moving. Being active with family or friends can help you create a healthy new routine.

"I like to play video games that have an active component, like yoga or tennis. Do those count as screen time?"

Some active video games count as physical activity. Limit the amount of time you spend inactive in front of the television, including video games. Playing an active video game can be a fun way to get physical activity. The activity should make your heart beat faster and your breathing rate pick up for it to count as physical activity. 

"I've logged my screen time, but I can't figure out how much TV time I should set as my goal. Are there recommendations that I can follow?"

Try limiting your total screen time to 2 hours a day (outside of work or school). Start by picking your favorite shows that you want to watch. Find other activities, such as walking, or find a new hobby that you enjoy doing in place of watching television.