The New York Times reports on a study examining how watching less TV affects average (five hours/day) TV viewers. The results: Cutting television in half resulted in the equivalent of walking roughly 13km per week in calories burned.
Photo by (A3R) angelrravelor (A3R).
The results reported in The Archives of Internal Medicine were a bit different from what the researches expected:
Although some participants did report getting more exercise by walking their dogs more often or signing up for a yoga class, most of the people didn't use their television-free time for scheduled physical exercise. One person used the extra time to organize photo albums, others reported reading more or playing board games with their children. Many said they spent the time doing more household chores or paying bills.
But even those minor changes in activity level counted a lot. While the group that reduced television viewing burned off an additional 120 calories a day compared with the previous three weeks, the control group became even more sedentary, moving about 100 calories less than before. The additional activity that resulted from less television time is the equivalent of walking about eight miles a week.
The takeaway, while pretty obvious (less TV is likely going to be a healthy thing), is still interesting. We should also note that the participants in the study were overweight, but it seems the findings would still have some impact one way or another.
It's easy to kick off your shoes after a long day at work and just unwind and tune out to the TV, but you can also find other activities short of go-go exercise that'll still make you a healthier person in the long-run — and organising photo albums sounds pretty relaxing in its own right.