4 Reasons to Turn off the TV

This past year was a bad year for televisions: several studies and surveys came out about how excessive television watching was linked to everything from poor heart health to being overweight. Take these 4 tips into account before you commit to couch-surfing your way through the colder months!

4 reasons to turn it off 

1. TV is bad news for your heart

A study published early this year in the European Heart Journal discovered that people who own a television and a car tend to be at increased risk for heart attack. It makes sense. When you’re parked in front of the tube or in the driver’s seat, you are most likely sitting around—and spending hours being sedentary is not helping your heart health at all.

Meanwhile, people from developed and developing countries that are physically active at both work and leisure were found to have a noticeably lower risk of heart attack. These findings come from data analysis of more than 29,000 people in 52 countries. While a lot of time has been spent looking at the association between physical activity and cardiovascular risk, this study offers a global perspective. Further, it shows that even mild to moderate physical activity at work and during leisure time reduces heart attack risk—independent of the usual risk factors in men and women of all ages, in most regions of the world, and across low, middle or high income levels.

And what do the numbers say? People who owned both a TV and car had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack than those who owned neither. So instead of watching TV, go for a walk or take your bicycle for a spin!

2. TV is linked to bad eating habits

A nationwide survey from May published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showed that there is indeed a link between watching a lot of TV and unhealthy eating habits. The survey of over 12,000 students in grades 5 to 10 found that television watching is associated with both unhealthy snacking while viewing, and with unhealthy eating at all times. Researchers questioned the children about how much TV they watched, how frequently they snacked while watching, how often they ate vegetables and fruits vs. candy and soda, and how often they didn’t eat breakfast. After controlling for other factors, they found that overall, higher TV-watching times was associated with a lower chance of eating fruits and vegetables each day and higher odds of skipping breakfast, consuming fast food, and eating candy and soda. The research suggested that advertising influences eating choices even when the children are not watching television. And small wonder! Children viewing TV are exposed to more ads for unhealthy food. When is the last time you saw a commercial for a fruit or vegetable?

That’s real food for thought! For your youngsters—and for you—the recommendation is to limit daily TV viewing time and make sure you are stocked up on healthy snacks, like apples, bananas, and carrots.

Bonus Tip: If getting all your necessary nutrients in every day seems a little daunting, consider supplementing your health the simple way with Liquid Whole Food Vitamins—a veggie, fruit, vitamin, amino acid, antioxidant, and mineral blend that you can mix into juice for you or your children.

3. Background TV has a negative impact on learning

Back in April, preliminary research sourced from the International Communication Association found that American children are being exposed to background TV for nearly four hours each day. Previous research has suggested that too much background TV may impact children’s learning and development negatively. One example the study authors point to is that background TV seems to diminish reading ability. So, switch it off when no one is watching, and consider the consequences of having a TV in a youngster’s bedroom.

4. There are so many other fun things to do than watch TV!

When you aren’t watching the boob tube, not only are you benefiting your health, but you are also opening up extra time to do all sorts of fun and life-enhancing activities. What to do with all that freed up time? Take a class and learn something new! Go for a walk in the park or take a bike ride around town. Read a book, make an elaborate meal, spend time in the community, or have a game-night with friends and family. Instead of passively watching a television show, imagine the enjoyment of having an actual dialogue in good company!

I hope you find plenty of inspiring reasons to watch less television!

You can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. In addition, The Natural Health Dictionary makes a great companion to your quest for longevity. It is a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements.

Follow me on Twitter to get insider tips and to ask your health questions.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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