Want to Lose Weight? Stop Watching Television!

According to the website US.gov, the most frequent New Year’s resolution people make is to lose weight and get in good physical condition. That is, of course, a great goal. Here is one of the best and possibly the easiest tip to accomplish that. Figure out a way to reduce or eliminate television watching as well.

The average American spends 20 hours a week watching television. Surprisingly, that number of hours is matched in many other developed and developing countries. As the hours of television watched by people world wide so have the number of overweight people and the health problems associated with obesity. Researchers have discovered a distinct association between the amount of time both adults and children spend watching television and the body mass index of the individuals observed in the studies.

weight loss secret The simple answer to this association is that television watching is a sedentary activity. You burn fewer calories while watching television than just about any other activity. This should be no surprise, yet somehow people think they can lose weight without getting up off the coach and do something requiring the use of their hands, feet and brain. If you still think watching TV for hours really doesn’t make a difference in your physical health consider this: Additional research has discovered that watching television induces both physiological and psychological changes in individuals that impede a person’s efforts to lose weight.

One study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 1993 found that television watching suppresses the metabolic rate of children. It was observed that children who watched a lot of television had higher body mass indices than did children whose television time was restricted. These numbers were consistent in families in which obesity or being overweight was not a common trait. In other words, you and your family were (or had the potential) to be in good shape until you decided to plop down and watch MORE television. When researchers measured metabolic activity in two groups of children, they found that those children watching television registered lower metabolic activity than children who were merely sitting or resting. In short, the couch potato who spends his or her time watching television needs fewer calories than does the couch potato who spends time reading, listening to the radio or knitting.

Watching television also tends to be hypnotic. This makes the viewer more suggestible to food stimuli … that is short hand for you are being manipulated by food commercials. Getting up to get snacks does not count as exercise. You are not really hungry (after all, you know you are burning fewer calories than a guy reading a book). It is just you are on your 10th TV commercial showing mouth watering burgers or another brand of beer. Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland found that the brain begins to emit alpha waves after just 30 seconds of watching television. Alpha waves are normally emitted during twilight sleep (the period between an awakened state and full sleep) or when a person is in a light hypnotic trance. This means that the act of watching television makes the viewer easy to influence, a fact that has been well known by advertising gurus since the days of black and white broadcasts.

During prime time television, there are currently 17 minutes of advertisements for every hour of programming. Many of these advertisements are for food products. Television watching has been found to stimulate "mindless" eating, and viewers are more likely to use food cues from television rather than hunger signals as motivators to eat. A study published in the journal Health Psychology found that when exposed to televised food advertising, both children and adults consumed up to 45% more snack food compared to those who merely had the food available but were not exposed to advertising. It’s no wonder that commercial breaks are often accompanied by a trip to the refrigerator or sending out the guy reading the book for fast food, after all, he’s not really doing anything important.

Could you commit to a television fast for a month? Is it possible to replace boob tube time with more constructive activities? If you did this would you discover that television has been secretly sabotaging the effort to live a healthier lifestyle? For many of us trying to cut back on watching television is like asking us to give up an all expenses paid free vacation every night. That’s not easy to do. And, who would want to. But if you have the discipline to watch less TV, and you really do want to get into a better shape than round, then you should do it. For those who just cannot see missing the latest episode of cops catching bad people or whatever, here are a few other suggestions.

Try exercising while watching at least one TV program. Stationary bikes, tread mills, working with light weights, anything to get the blood pumping and justify a visit to the freezer for half the ice cream you use to eat. Set-up a special room for the TV/exercise routine. Maybe watch one program with the family, the second (or third) in you ‘work-out room’. Here is a serious question: Are you healthy enough to watch TV WITHOUT sitting on the couch or an extra padded chair? No joke, but most people to have become so overweight and/or unfit they cannot get up off the floor three or four times in one evening, let alone remain on the floor for 30 minutes to an hour. Try and see if you can remain on the floor for 30 minutes of TV watching – seriously consider checking with your doctor before trying this because it is not as easy as it sound. If you cannot, or find it very challenging, or hurt yourself even trying it (you were warned to check with your doctor first), then, consider it an important lesson in how overweight and out-of-shape you are.

If you manage to make it through 30 minutes on the floor watching TV, consider making that a nightly routine. More, consider talking with a physical therapist, yoga instructor or some other exercise specialist about setting up a simple routine you can go through in 30 to 45 minutes nightly. You will be shocked at how much better you will look and feel in just a month. There are a number of exercise routines especially designed for people to do in a chair. Think about it.

Should you be someone who has made the resolution to lose weight and/or get in better shape, good luck and hope you succeed. If you can do it without giving up your television time, more power to you. But if you give up just a little television time (or add just a little exercise while watching the latest prime time crime drama or fantasy show) you may discover you will speed your way to a healthier you.

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