The Incredibly Healthy Tip To Make Your TV Habit Work For You

Would you rather be a lumpy couch potato or totally hot? (That's not a trick question.) Read on to become the latter.

It’s no secret that people spend a lot of time watching television.

According to the American Time Use Survey, the average American watches TV for 2.83 hours per day as a “primary activity.” That means paying attention to the set. A quick calculation finds that 2.83 hours a day is almost 20 hours per week. Add in time spent watching TV while eating or doing other things (i.e., as a “secondary activity”) and you quickly get up to Nielsen’s widely quoted findings: 30 hours a week or more.

To be fair, there’s probably about 20 hours of great TV on per week, but I can’t even claim that level of sophistication. My weakness is more mediocre TV. Anything on HGTV sucks me right in. Talk shows are great too. Since I work from home--and for myself!--there is nothing stopping me from watching hour after hour of daytime television.

My solution?

I can watch it...but I can only watch it on the treadmill.

I first started this rule several years ago when I discovered I really liked watching Oprah. I was living in an apartment building with a gym at the time, and when I realized the irony of sitting on my couch watching people talk about improving their lives, I started hauling myself down there. If I got really into a show, I could crank out 5-6 miles while learning how to keep my home clutter-free, or make over my wardrobe with finds from Target. Win-win!

We eventually left the apartment for a suburban house. Most of the time I run outside, but it rains, snows, and sometimes tops 100 degrees in Pennsylvania. So I joined the YMCA. The local branches have TVs right on the machines, so I don’t have to fight with fellow patrons over viewing choices. That’s just as well, because I enjoy nothing better than watching a couple claim they’d hate to renovate--then learn that all their dream houses cost twice as much as they’re planning to spend on fixes! (Spoiler alert: This is the plot of every single episode of Property Brothers.)

Watching TV makes an hour of running go by relatively quickly, though it doesn’t go by as quickly as if I were eating chips on the couch. And that’s kind of the point. I will think long and hard about watching a two-hour HGTV marathon if it means I’m going to need to run 11 miles to watch it. That’s usually not worth it. And 2.83 hours per day? I’m tired just thinking about it. That sure keeps the daytime TV watching in check.

[Image: Flickr user djwtwo]

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2 Comments

  • Susanr613

    When I watch Biggest Loser at the gym, it inspires me to work a little harder. I know the show is not realistic, but an obese person on a treadmill is a person overcoming a lot to get healthy and you can't fake that.

  • Dale

    I do the same thing with Video games.  I could spend hours running through Skyrim, it's a lot harder to do it for hours when you try to keep up on a treadmill.