Limit sitting-around time

Limit sitting-around time whenever possible

Sitting-stopper strategies for kids: How to cut your sedentary time

We’ve advised you that getting an hour a day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise will do your body lots of good. Think about how you are spending the rest of your time. If all you’re doing is eating, relaxing on the couch, lying on your bed, and sitting at your desk — also known as “sedentary time” — that’s not good for your health.

Stand and move around more often, even when you’re not working up a sweat. A good rule to keep in mind is to move around at least every hour or so. Below, you’ll find several ways to spend less time sitting when you’re not in school or sleeping. We call these “sitting-stopper strategies.”

There are four categories of sitting-stopper strategies. Notice the words “active” and “activity” are used a lot.

  1. Active recreation: Fun physical activity during free time. You may be less likely to sit around if you get out of your house or apartment to move. Example: Walk around the mall with friends rather than sitting at the food court.
  2. Lifestyle activity: Physical activity you do as part of daily living. You’ll get your body moving — and the adults will thank you for being so responsible. Example: Grocery shop with a parent on Saturday morning rather than watching videos.
  3. Active transportation: Using your own body — human power — to get from one place to another. Example: Walk to school, if safe, rather than sitting in a car or bus.
  4. Active breaks: Getting up and moving every so often during long periods of sitting. Example: Pause halfway on family movie night to do a few exercises — stand up, stretch, and march in place.

Let’s explore more sitting-stopper strategies:

Active recreation
  • go to a playground
  • take part in recess games: tag, sharks and minnows, others
  • hike
  • play laser tag
  • participate in sports: tennis, basketball, baseball, volleyball, others
  • do walking tours
  • walk with friends
  • visit parks, museums, and historical sites
  • go kayaking
  • ride a bike
  • try horseback riding
  • ice skate
  • visit a beach or pool for swimming or water play
Lifestyle activity
  • clean your room
  • garden or do yard work
  • wash the car
  • rake leaves
  • carry groceries
  • mow the lawn
  • shovel snow
  • take out the trash
  • mop the floor
Active transportation
  • walk to the store
  • bike to school
  • skateboard to the library
  • climb the stairs
  • jog to a friend's place
  • rollerblade to the park
Active breaks
  • stand up
  • stretch
  • jog or march in place
  • take a walk
  • dance
  • go up and down the stairs
  • play an active video game
  • exercise with an exercise DVD

What sitting-stopper strategies in these lists could you do this week? What are some other things you could do?

Family sitting-stopper challenge

  • Take a stack of sticky notes and have each family member write down a bunch of sitting-stopper activities they will commit to doing (one strategy per note).
  • Stick the notes on the wall in a central place.
  • See how many you can do in a week.
  • As you complete the activities, move the sticky notes from one side of the wall to the other.
  • Celebrate with a family game night or other fun activity.

The Boston Children’s fit kit Step Challenges

How many steps would it take to climb Mount Everest, hike the Grand Canyon, or finish the Boston Marathon? Check out the fit kit Step Challenges to find out. Then, start your virtual adventure to see if you can go the distance. Challenge yourself to walk an average of 12,000 steps a day.

Step-counters, called pedometers, are easy to use. If you do not have a pedometer, you can use a step-counting app on a phone. (If you use a phone, you’ll need to carry it on your body, like in a pocket or a wearable pouch.)

To accumulate steps, try out all your new sitting-stopper strategies — active recreation, lifestyle activity, active transportation, and active breaks. Log your steps for a week.

Doing these challenges is a way to motivate yourself to sit less and move more, while learning fun facts about these virtual destinations. Enjoy the adventure.

Knowledge check: Active recreation, lifestyle activity, active transportation, or active breaks?

My Step Log: Record your steps until you reach your virtual destination. Have fun! Download the log

My Sedentary Time Tracker: People who use trackers are more likely to limit sitting-around and entertainment screen time. Try it! Download the tracker