Turn Off the Tube

Winter is nearly upon us, and that means spending less time outdoors and more time locked away indoors. For many, this means planting their butts in front of the television and vegging out for hours.

The truth is, you’re not getting much accomplished by sitting around flipping through endless channels on that 42” flat screen. In addition to wasting time, research shows you may also be shortening your life.

Research conducted in Australia found that watching six or more hours of TV per day can shorten life expectancy by nearly five years. Put another way, every hour of TV you watch as an adult takes 22 minutes off your life. That means watching too much TV is as bad for you as not exercising, being over weight, and smoking.

The study indicated that the average American watches four to five hours of TV per day. A little relaxation time in front of the tube is okay; after all, we all have our guilty televised pleasures. But just imagine what could be accomplished if we put all those wasted hours to good use.

In addition, studies show that sitting for prolonged periods in front of the television leads to an increase in the consumption of nutrient-deficient, snack-type foods. It’s simple; a poor diet coupled with long periods of sitting is a recipe for disaster.

But what about the TVs on the exercise machines at the gym? If I can enjoy my favorite program while working out, I’m not wasting time, right? I have a hard time answering this question with a straight face, but riding an elliptical while watching The Biggest Looser isn’t working out.

If you’re paying attention to what’s on a screen, you’re not paying attention to your training.

To really challenge yourself athletically or train seriously, you need to focus on your form, your pacing, and that’s impossible if you’re watching TV or chatting. Instead, you should always be focused on the task at hand – the next big set, the next rep, the next challenge.

The bottom line? Watch less TV and add more years to your life. And your training schedule.