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Tune In to a Healthier You

Time to Turn Off Those TV's!

-- By Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer

 How often do you come home from a hard day, only to plop on the couch and "relax" in front of the TV? If you find it hard to escape the sights and sounds of the tube, or if watching your favorite show turns into more wasted hours than you planned, you're not alone. Americans watch TV for an average of 4 hours every day; even when we're not watching, the television is on--for almost 8 hours a day in the average home. Have you ever realized how much TV has become a part of our lives? Here are some more startling facts, from the non-profit organization, TV-Turnoff Network

40% of Americans always or often watch TV while eating dinner.

  • Eating dinner or snacking in front of the TV is linked to overeating and dissatisfaction. When you're distracted, you're not mindful of the meal you are eating, causing you to eat more without realizing it or really enjoying your food. Turn off the TV (and other distractions like the computer or the phone), and you'll savor that portion-controlled meal.
50% of US households have 3 or more TVs.
  • When you have more TVs, chances are, more of your family members are watching- instead of spending quality time together, doing homework, and being active.
By age 65, the average American has seen 2 million TV commercials.
  • Many of the commercials we see show appetizing foods-fast food, junk food, soda, alcohol, sugary cereals, and candy. Think "out of sight, out of mind."
The average American youth spends about 900 hours per year in school, and over 1,000 hours per year watching TV.
  • While you can't place all the blame on TV, soaring rates of childhood obesity are a result of both poor nutrition and an inactive lifestyle. Limit the amount of time your kids (and yourself, leading by example) watch TV and encourage more physical activity like walking the dog, helping with yard work, playing sports, or other active hobbies.
  • In a 2008 Canadian study, researchers from the University of Toronto found that kids who watched TV while eating lunch consumed 228 extra calories than those who ate without the television on. Harvey Anderson of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (the organization that funded the study) believes that watching TV leads to mindless eating. By focusing on TV instead of a meal, kids (and adults) are less likely to notice feelings of fullness.<pagebreak>
TV-Turnoff Week
Consider turning off that TV permanently--OK, well maybe for just a week. April 19 through April 25 is the official "TV-Turnoff Week," an exciting opportunity for adults and children to experience life without television. For seven days, people around the world will turn off their TVs and find something better to do. But no matter what  time of year it is now, there are plenty of reasons to cut down on your TV time.

Think it would impossible to turn off your TV for an entire week? Imagine how much more free time you would have if you didn't spend time watching TV! There are lots of fun (and healthy) things you could do with your newfound time. Here are some examples:
  • Get active! Think you don't have time to exercise? Here?s your opportunity!
  • Make it a family event! Take the kids out for a walk, ride bikes, learn a new sport, go canoeing, etc.
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Go to bed earlier and get your recommended 7-8 hours of sleep
  • Start that new hobby you've been wanting to try
  • Cook dinner for your family and enjoy it together at the table
  • Volunteer at your local church or community center
  • Start a vegetable garden or plant flowers
  • Take a class- drawing, woodworking, sewing- whatever interests you
  • Take a trip to the grocery store. Without the usual rush, take the time to compare labels, find new foods, and stock up on fresh fruits, veggies and healthy snacks.
  • Write a letter to someone you haven't seen in awhile
  • Spend more time with your pet! Go for a walk or play a game of Frisbee.
  • Prepare healthy bag lunches for the family.
The possibilities are endless! Do you think you could give it a try, just for one week? According to a follow-up survey, 80% of TV-Turnoff participants said they altered their viewing habits and now watch less TV. You'll be amazed how a little less TV can have a big impact on you and your family. 

For more information on TV-Turnoff Week, visit: www.tvturnoff.org
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