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5 ways slimming screentime is good for your health

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Screens have been a help during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve allowed friends and family members to stay connected and for workers to do their jobs at home.

But now that COVID-19 vaccines are allowing people to gather in person and go back to the office, stepping away from screens when you can is a good thing.

Dr. Mysoon Ayuob, a family medicine physician for the Mayo Clinic, highlights five reasons why spending less time on a screen is good for your health.

1. It improves your physical health.

You know that physical activity is good for your health, but devices could be cutting into your exercise time. Maintaining healthy habits can be hard when you spend lots of time using screens.

Walking away from screens can affect your physical health by:

  • Helping prevent obesity and conditions related to excess weight, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease
  • Freeing up more time for exercise and socializing
  • Leading to better sleep
  • Helping cut down on snacking and mindless eating, which can happen when you eat in front of the TV and other screens

2. It frees up time to have fun playing and exploring.

Exploring and learning about the world is an important part of life. Instead of spending time on devices, encourage yourself and your family to try new activities. Go for a bike ride or walk, visit a park, check out a museum or explore a local nature trail.

Activities that don’t involve screens can be just as exciting as what is on them. Try coloring (it’s healthy for adults, too), reading, crafting or other activities that use your imagination. Decreasing screen time allows more time for play and creative activities.

3. It helps you make social connections.

Consider this: When you are using a device, you are disengaging with something else. Is that something else important to you? Perhaps it’s a child, friend or significant other.

When parents and grandparents are engaging with a screen, children may feel they need to compete for attention. By setting down your device, children may feel their parents and grandparents are more emotionally available and help strengthen the family bond.

4. Boost your mood.

Putting down your phone and going outside or doing an activity you enjoy can be a mood booster. It can make you feel more accomplished and improve your well-being. Depression and anxiety can cause a person to withdraw and isolate themselves from others. Engaging in social activities helps you connect with others and improve symptoms of these conditions.

5. Build community.

Being part of the community around you and feeling connected to others is beneficial to your health.

Consider these ways to get connected:

  • Families who eat meals together tend to be healthier. Turning off electronics during meals or family time eliminates distractions.
  • Find events in your community. Time spent using devices can instead be used for volunteering, joining a sports team or connecting time with a spiritual group.
  • Feeling a sense of belonging and being social is a good way to manage stress. Having support and feeling that you are not alone can help you cope with difficult times.

While technology is a great tool, it also can hinder your wellness and make you feel disconnected from those around you. Taking a break from devices frees up more time to be active and enjoy time with loved ones. Why not give it a try?

A version of this article originally appeared on Mayo Clinic Health System.

Mysoon Ayuob, M.D.

Dr. Ayuob is a Family Medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Faribault, Minnesota.

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