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Turn Up Your Activity By Turning Off The TV

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The topic of TV is a constant battle in my house. I would be happy if we got rid of the TV completely (okay, except when it's the middle of a season of Top Chef.) My husband, on the other hand, was a little too excited when we got our new flat-screen, big-screen, too much-screen TV. There are lots of good reasons to watch less TV, especially since the average American spends 5 hours a DAY in front of the TV. It's easy to assume that less TV might lead to healthier habits, since you'd have more time to exercise or cook a healthy meal. A new study shows that less TV might not change your diet or increase your exercise, but it could lead to an increase in overall activity levels.

The study, published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, tracked 36 obese and overweight individuals for 6 weeks. Part of the group had their TV viewing cut in half, while the others continued to watch the same amount as before. The researchers were surprised to learn that reducing the amount of TV didn't change calorie consumption or sleep patterns. But the group who watched less TV did get more activity throughout their day (outside of exercise), burning an average of 120 calories per day more than the control group. That might not sound like a lot, but over the course of a week that's like taking an 8-mile walk. In fact, the control group became even more sedentary, burning an average of 100 calories less per day during the study. Pretty significant, right?

This study is one example of how small changes can lead to big results. You don't have to exercise for hours on end or follow the "nothing-but-carrots-for-a-week" diet in order to see changes to your health and your waistline. Set small goals and take small steps each day toward a healthier lifestyle. Reduce the amount of TV you watch, replace one of those sodas with a glass of water, or take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. You'd be surprised at what can happen.

What kind of small changes have you made that have added up to big results? Has the amount of TV you watch changed since you committed to a healthier lifestyle?

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My tv watching has dropped off almost completely. I can't sit still to watch anything anymore. This is a good thing! Report
I have watched almost no television since I re-started my weightloss journey in October. I have better things to do with my time. Report
I leave mine on for background noise just as much as the radio and spend very little time actually watching it. Report
I quit watching TV last June and I use the PC since I can look at what I want. Report
I'll echo the sentiments of a few other folks on here - if used wisely, TV can be a good way to zone out while exercising! I tend to spend way longer on the elliptical if I'm watching something and don't want to hop off til' it's over... ;o) That said, just vegging all night? Never a good thing. I like to try and do crunches during commercial breaks -- it's a good way to ward off total couch-potato-ness! Report
I was pretty much a slave to TV. Still love it a lot. But what I did was get a DVR and record some of the programs I cannot live without. I cut out the other programs and got rid of my movie channels. Now I can get my work done, dont have to rush home etc. Now I can just press pause or watch it another day. This has helped me get to bed at a reasonable time and be able to get up early for my morning exercise. I have now lost 60lbs....90 more to go! Report
I am tv junkie. Especially reality shows like Top Chef, Project Runway and so forth. However, since I started with Sparkpeople in November I have found my time on facebook and watching tv has dropped. For Christmas we bought our family the wii fit. Our girls are 5 but their parents are overweight and needed to make some changes. Since we started using the wii we find that our time watching tv has dropped significantly where my husband and I may only watch 30 minutes of tv instead of 2 hours a night. Even though the DVR is racking up un watched tv shows I am glad that we are watching less tv and staying more active. :) Report
I used to have the tv on all the time but now I play a lot more music and yes I agree that calorie consumption has not changed but I move around a lot more and feel very peaceful once its in the background. Report
I DEFINITELY watched too much TV! So as a NY resolution, I decided I would only watch my FAVORITE shows and only watch for 1 HOUR per night. If it is necessary to record or watch the show "on demand", that's what I do. I also decided that if I wanted to watch a movie, that could be my Saturday or Sunday "treat" as most movies are approximately 2 hours long. I have already noticed that I have a lot more time for other things and I am getting a lot more accomplished. Report
I watch TV while on my treadmill.
So I get exercise and watch TV at the same time. Report
I try to avoid TV on weekdays. I'm also trying to now cut down (way down) on weekends. I recently stopped the regular taping of all the cooking shows I love (on PBS and Food Network), and I'm only taping one regular network series. It's not a matter of making time for exercise in my case, but in making time for other things. Between work and home commitments, I feel like TV is the first thing that should go if I feel pressed for time! Report
TV seems to just waste our time. I have found hobbies to occupy my time instead of mindless hours in front of the TV, but ocassionally it is nice to just relax. Report
I used to use my TV for the backboard of my nurf basketball hoop, then I found the on switch. The flickering makes it harder to score points.

- Ralph Report
i figured less tv would equal more activity, but i didnt think it would be that much more! Report
I do pretty well with no TV and do get a great deal accomplished when it's off but the husband turns it on upon getting up, getting home, and veg's out. I'd love to help motivate him and my son to leave the thing alone..... Report
Monday night is "No TV Night" at our house. We exercise, read, play games, listen to music anything but watch TV. I hope we can increase this to at least two nights a week or more. Report
It's not tv that takes all my time, it's the computer especially since joining SparkPeople I find I sit here more reading emails and articles to get spark points. I just wasted 2 hours this morning. Report
Our DirecTV box broke almost a year ago. I do not miss the TV that much although I did enjoy some of the channels like TLC, Discovery, etc. I have not noticed that my activity level increased all that much as we replaced the TV with computer games, and internet activities (like

However, since we recently replaced our broken Wii (we wore out the dvd player portion) we are more active than we had been. We are really enjoying playing the Wii Resort games. Some of them really tone the arms because of the way you are holding the Wii remote. We spent 7 hours playing games on Saturday this weekend instead of board or card games when a friend came over. Report
I'm surprised at the average number of television people watch ... 5 hours a day!? How do people find the time? I don't even have kids yet and I got way too much to do then spend it in front of the tube. The only time I watch TV is when I'm at the gym. Good old CNN! Report
I don't watch alot of tv.. NCIS and Project Runway are programmes that I like they are both on at night. I'm not really a tv day time person.. other then that I'm on the coumputer .. I love that .. I'm thinking about getting a tread mill so I can watch tv while i'm walking when the weather is bad. Report
I watch just as much TV as I always have, but I am more active than I've ever been. I may burn more calories if I watched less, but I actually enjoy the things I watch!

The good part, is I watch a bit less since we got a DVR so I don't have to sit through commercials. I can watch my favorite shows in less time. Report
I will say that I love my television but to still work out and get the healthy lifestyle in, I use my tv recorder to record the shows I want to watch later on in the day after I've done what I'm supposed to do this. This gives me "guilt free" television when I can relax! Report
I agree, TV is mostly a horrible waste of time and not an overall positive for your health! Computer time can be more beneficial if you are using it for positive changes in your life (think SparkPeople!), but it is really easy to lose track of time when you surf. I have TV limits for the kids so we don't have it on certain days of the week unless it is something special that we all choose to watch together, but we usually try to choose a different activity. Report
I usually have the tv on, as I listen to it. Since I don't get a radio station where I live, I have the tv on for news in the morning. I have it on in the evenings, also, starting with Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune when I get home. Most tv shows don't need watching, so I listen. However, the thing that keeps me sitting like a lump is my surfing the net. I spend way too much time in front of the computer, especially on this site... Report
Very Proud Report
For expense reasons we cut the cable television out of our expenses. We still get the typical channels, ABC, CBS, Fox, etc but even then it is usually me that is watching TV. My boyfriend is usually on a computer trying to fix something with it.
I have decided to take the bus to school/work when possible because that forces me to walk at least a mile each day between walking to the bus stop, next bus stop, school, etc. Every little bit adds up! Report
I think I watch less TV. I know that I don't watch half the shows that DH and I used to TiVo hungrily every week (no pun intended!). I would say DH's biggest issue is computer time. Same goes for my WoW-addicted stepson (age 13). My stepdaughters both use computer and TV time equally, but we strictly limit TV time to weekends and computer time to homework only during the school week (1-4 hours on the weekend days). We definitely use more of this time in front of the TV during the winter, when the days are shorter and there aren't as many outdoor activities to play as in the spring/summer/fall. But we make up for it when the other 3 seasons roll around, when the TV stays firmly off during daylight hours. Report
No the whole family stills watches more than we should but I myself have cut down a lot. I am at the gym about 3 hrs a day but the tv's are on there. I hate headphones so I watch with no sound just the music the gym has going. There are 3 TV's in our house but the main one in the living room is on more than the others. I do housework to music but my husband will turn it on, lay on the couch and fall asleep to it. What a waste of electricity! Report
Like many people we have a several TV's...but we have designated one of them for only TV which is in a big room that also allows some of us to do crafts and still all be in one room. The other TV is only for the wii, and the one upstairs is only for DVD's/movies...we disconnected the cable in order to make this possible. :) It has really helped everyone from just getting bored and watching TV to making a decision on whether they want to do that or an activity. It seems to be working well for us...but we could still do more if there weren't any TV's but that won't happen in my family! LOL Report
I probably watch way too much TV but I have started to get up and walk during the
commercial breaks. It's surprising how many steps a person can get in just by
moving during the commercial breaks. Report
I have my TV on all the time, but I am not watching it all the time. I like the background noise, but I find that I don't even know "what happened" most of the time. I do have my favorite, can't miss 'em shows, but half of the time I am not even really paying attention to those. I spark, or read, or cook, or do the dishes, but I do them with the TV on. Report
Maybe it's an age thing, but I find as I get older, I watch less and less TV. Quite frankly, there really isn't anything that good on. I watch the news and a couple of shows I really like. but, I definitely am watching less. These days, I do prefer reading a good book. what I really need is to pry my fingers away from the computer keyboard !! If anything cuts into my TV time, it's my COMPUTER time ! LOL !!!!

I am not a TV person at all. I listen to the news to be informed on what's going on around me and that's about it. I do find myself being more productive because I don't devote alot of time to tv, unlike some of my friends. If everyone can put a limit to the amount of tv they will watch, this will help balance their lives and production will still take place. Report
I don't watch TV, but my main problem is the internet. I spend countless hours online, more that real-life activities, and it does contribute to my sendentary behavior. Report
I watch when I am on the treadmill, but other times as well. It is winter. Report
I watch television only when I'm exercising. Other than that I never turn it on. I do, however, spend way too much time at the computer, mostly for work, but also for entertainment. I suppose that's the same as watching too much t.v., except for the fact that when my fingers are busy on the keyboard, they are not feeding my face. Report
I am a huge TV watcher. But I purchased a treadmill, so now when I watch TV I have to exercise also. By doing this I watch my favorite shows, but I also walk 3 miles in the process. Report
Me TOO !!! the internet gets me all the time.
TV ? I watch CSI Miami and CSI NY AND CSI that's 3 hours during the week, then a movie or 2 with my hubby.
Please don't ask how many hours on the computer, I even do it at work. Geeesh ! Report
I have the TV on more for the noise and am usually up and doing something else besides just sitting and watching it. Report
I found that when I limited the time I watched TV to 4 hours a week I was a happier person. I guess because I wasn't filling my mind with the stories on TV that can sometimes be depressing. On the other hand I do enjoy watching a good movie and I do have a few favorite programs I enjoy watching. Everything in moderation. Report
i try to use my treadmill at night when i watch t.v. Report
TV isn't necessarily a problem for me, but being inactive because I'm parked in front of a computer? Now that's another story! Not only is the majority of my workday spent sitting down staring at a computer screen, but then I come home and find myself here again for pleasure, amusement, edification, and a social life. I'd do good to cut my "at home" computer time in half! (Making sure that my SparkPeople time stayed, of course!) Report
I am a sports fanatic!! I love watching football, hockey, but now I moved my treadmill in livingroom so when there is a game on, I am on my treadmill. This works great because usually after the 20 min program time with listening to music I stop and go back later. With watching football, I get a drink and go back and can work on treadmill for an hour!!! Report
I usually don't turn it on during the week. I pre-record (set timer on DVR) my favorites. I then will watch them on Saturday night..when there seems to be nothing else on. Report
I know when I turn off the TV I replace it with music and that usualy gets my feet moving, whether it's cleaning or just moving around the apartment with a little extra wiggle in my walk or even reading, my legs are usually flexing to the beat and I don't even realize it. Report
One of my goals is to always use light weights and/or stretchy band while I'm watching TV. Of course, I always fall asleep in front the TV so I've been getting use to the difference between falling asleep with a book on my chest and falling asleep with a 10lb weight crushing my stomach. Report
I threw out my TV more than 6 years ago. Haven't missed it one bit. :) And yes, it did "give me more time" to cook, to shop for healthy foods, to get in the regular exercise I need. It did NOT translate to huge amounts of weight dropped, but I do so many other things now that used to be pushed aside with the "I don't have the TIME" excuse! :)
I know this really is a big problem for me too, disconnecting myself from the TV. I watch too much for too long and then don't get enough sleep ad have no energy for more activity.BUT I am dong something about it and starting to lower my daily TV time. Report
I can see how they came to this conclusion. I procrastinate going to exercise and say I will do it after "this show" is over, but then I always manage to find another show that I have to watch, and never get in my exercise. Report
I set my computer up on a tall desk and have the display enhanced (bigger letters) so I can read SP and walk. I can now walk in place and type (doing it right now!) - sort of the same way the belly dancers disconnect hips and lower body movements from upper body ones. I usually get 11,000 steps a day between doing that and running in place - a bit over 4 miles worth! Report
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