Turning Screen Time into Physical Activity…..What’s the Catch?


“It’s too hot!”

“I’m too tired!”

“But I’m almost at the next level!”

Do those statements sound familiar?  Do you feel like negotiations are never-ending every time you ask your child to stop staring at their device or playing a video game?  You’re not alone!  A friend of mine recently mentioned her kids complain about the heat; however, staying inside leads to hours of screen time.  With the boom of video games, devices, and fidget spinners as distractions, not to mention this Texas heat, why would kids want to get off their behind and out of the AC?  They can exercise their thumbs, connect with friends, and fidget with this or that all from one spot….the comfy couch.  

Sitting has a detrimental effect on heart health, and has severely impacted childhood obesity rates.    Unfortunately, we can’t rely solely on schools for adequate physical activity, and during the summer months that option is out the window completely.  

What’s a Mom to do?  Would you call me crazy if I said your kids CAN play a video game or use their device and get physical activity at the same time?  

Well, it’s true!  While fresh air, exploration and outdoor play is very important during each stage of child development, some days that just can’t happen.  It’s hot, maybe it’s raining, or you just don’t want to argue with your pre-teen today.  

We are all familiar with video games requiring more activity such as dance games.  These can be a lot of fun, and a fabulous ab workout especially when it’s Mom and Dad’s turn, but not all kids are into those types of games.  It’s time to get a little more creative.

Instead, turn fidget spinners, device apps like trivia games and video games into active challenges!  It sounds too good to be true, right?  Here’s just one example of how it can work…

  • One child will STAND UP while holding the spinner, playing the video game, or operating the device app.  
  • While the spinner is spinning or game is being played, other kiddos (and even parents!) perform an activity such as jumping jacks, frog jumps or burpees.  Create a station for each person participating.  If you have a large space, one station could be a shuttle run from one end of the room to the other.  The point is, choose activities in which repetitions can be counted.  One station idea could even be bottle flipping.  Yep, I said it, bottle flipping!  Just make sure at least one station requires a little more physical activity.  
  • The activities are performed until the spinner stops spinning, a new video game level is reached, or the device app has ended.  Another option is to set a clock for 1 minute.  
  • Then, switch stations!  Challenge kids to accumulate as many repetitions as possible.  After 1 to 3 rotations, total it all up.  Try to beat that total on the next rainy or hot day.  
  • Avoid allowing siblings to compete against each other.  If they’re up for more of a healthy competition, challenge them to beat Mom or Dad!

Alright Mom and Dad, time to brush up on those spinning and gaming skills!  Get creative and have some fitness fun, along with lots of belly laughs, with the whole family!





Former Director of Fitness & Research at Curves International, Inc., Katie holds a Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. She received her Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.  While at Curves, Katie was responsible for the direction of fitness.  She has taught college-accredited kinesiology courses to hundreds of fitness professionals and provided direction, content and an on-camera presence for educational DVDs that delivered additional training to Curves franchisees and staff. 
Currently, Katie is a physical education teacher at the Rapoport Academy.  She is also a trainer at CrossFit Waco and teaches kids fitness classes, Waco Fit Kids, at various locations in Waco.   
Katie has been an avid health and fitness enthusiast since she was young.  Through her participation in competitive sports and experience coaching young athletes, she developed a passion for fitness and helping others achieve their goals. 
Her passion deepened after Katie saw multiple members of her family affected by heart disease.  When she’s not training others, Katie loves to spend time outside with her two furry four-legged kids – Brig, a black lab and Shea, a yellow lab.