Sedentary behaviour

kid playing video games
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends limiting recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day.

COMPASS asks students how much time they usually spend per day:

  • surfing the Internet
  • watching/streaming TV shows or movies
  • talking on the phone, texting, messaging, and emailing
  • playing video/computer games

Why is sedentary behaviour a health issue?

The more time youth spend in sedentary behaviour, the more likely they are to report:

  • poorer physical health
  • poorer quality of life
  • physical aggression
  • alcohol use
  • poorer quality of family relationships
  • poorer self-image2

For computer use in particular, the more time youth spent using the computer the more likely they were to report engaging in multiple risk behaviours such as smoking, getting drunk, and using marijuana.4

Youth who reported one or more hours of screen or phone time per day were more susceptible to begin smoking.1 In one study, high levels of daily screen-based sedentary behaviour combined with low levels of daily physical activity resulted in youth being twice as likely to be overweight, compared to youth who spend less time engaged in daily screen-based sedentary behaviour and who are more active.3

Sedentary lifestyles have also been associated with lower levels of school connectedness and poorer academic achievement.5

How can your school encourage students to lead a more active lifestyle? Your School Health Profile contains suggestions and contact information for health professionals who are willing to help.

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1Leatherdale, S. T., Wong, S. L., Manske, S. R., & Colditz, G. A. (2008). Susceptibility to smoking and its association with physical activity, BMI, and weight concerns among youth. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 10(3), 499-505.

2Iannotti, R. J., Kogan, M. D., Janssen, I., & Boyce, W. F. (2009). Patterns of adolescent physical activity, screen-based media use, and positive and negative health indicators in the U.S. and Canada. Journal of Adolescent Health, 44, 493-499.

3Sisson, S. B., Broyles, S. T., Baker, B. L., & Katzmarzyk, P. T. (2010). Screen time, physical activity, and overweight in U.S. youth: National Survey of Children’s Health 2003. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47,309-311.

4Carson, V., Pickett, W., & Janssen, I. (2011). Screen time and risk behaviors in 10- to 16-year-old Canadian youth. Preventive Medicine, 52, 99-103.

5Kristjánsson, A. L., Sigfúsdottir, I., D., Allegrante, J. P., & Helgason, Á. R. (2009). Adolescent health behavior, contentment in school, and academic achievement. American Journal of Health Behavior, 33(1), 69-79.

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