Healthy Abbotsford Blog

Can TV Watching Be Healthy?

Obesity Panacea recently posted some information on a recent study that looked at what would happen if people were active during commercial breaks when watching TV. You might be surprised!

In the US, TV viewing is the most popular sedentary leisure-time ‘activity’; the average American watches between 3-5 hrs of TV per day (up to 35hrs per week). By contrast, the same people state that they simply do not have enough time to meet the recommended level of physical activity (150 minutes per week).

Another neat idea here is using TV commercial breaks as prompts to get up, and also to use the duration of the break as the time to move. Since a 30-minute TV program consists of approximately 8-12 minutes of commercials, someone who watches 90-minutes of television could accumulate between 24-36 minutes of physical activity – approximately what is recommended.

And that is exactly what participants in this study did over a period of 6 months. One group was told to walk for 30 minutes on at least 5 days of the week (normal physical activity recommendations), while the other was instructed to step in one place or to walk briskly around their home during commercial breaks over a 90-minute period of television viewing on at least 5 days per week. Both groups received 6 monthly phone calls, attended monthly meetings for the first 3 months, and received monthly newsletters for the last 3 months. In other words, the intervention was quite ‘hands-off’.

At the end of the 6 months, both groups increased the number of daily steps taken (4611 to 7605 steps/day in the TV commercial stepping group and 4909 to 7865 steps/day in the walking group). Both groups also decreased their TV viewing time (from approximately 4 to 3 hours per day) and caloric intake (~2000 kcal/day to ~1700 kcal/day). In response to these lifestyle changes the participants’ waist and hip circumferences also reduced by a few centimeters.

So, enjoy TV and don’t want to give it up? Maybe you don’t have to, just get moving during those commercials! To read the full article click here.

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