Do you look forward to each season of television like some people eagerly await the birth of a child?
Is your favorite hobby sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix?
Do you find yourself having closer relationships with your favorite characters than your friends and family?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have a case of Couch Potato Syndrome — and the side effects can be deadly, literally.
A sedentary lifestyle can put you at a higher risk for dozens of preventable, but life-threatening, conditions. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity arthritis, insomnia, lower metabolism and decreased bone density can all be side effects of spending too much time sitting still.
If you’re ready to make a positive change in your life and get up off of that couch, here are some simple ways to do it:
Start with a Daily TV Limit
According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, there’s a direct correlation between your TV watching habits, your weight and your risks for diabetes. The researchers used data from a large prospective study and found that prolonged television watching can increase your weight and your risk for type 2 diabetes. Men in the study who watched greater than 40 hours per week of television had three times more risk of diabetes than those who spent less than one hour watching TV per week.
If you struggle with turning off the tube, you can start by setting a limit for yourself. Don’t go cold turkey or you’ll only slide backwards. Try choosing one to two must-see shows each week and use your DVR to catch them.
Hit the Gym – and the Tube
If you need to watch television, you might as well exercise while you’re doing it. Most modern gyms come equipped with their own televisions for your viewing pleasure. Invest in a gym membership and go to work out during your favorite show times. This way you can get in your viewing and burn some calories at the same time. Just get on the treadmill, plug in your earphones and get moving.
Turn Your Living Room into a Gym
Alternatively, you can use your television watching habits at home to help motivate your workouts. Try doing some calisthenics or weight lifting during the commercial breaks of your favorite show. Commercial breaks are perfect because they are a short enough time to make it seem easy, but frequent enough during a show so you can keep your heart rate up. Try doing sit ups and pushups during one commercial break, then lift some five pound weights for an easy arm workout. You can also try jogging in place or doing jumping jacks in order to make the most out of commercial breaks.
Take a Hike
If you’re having trouble cutting out television right after dinner, try the old “out of sight, out of mind” rule. Instead of snuggling into your favorite lounge chair after your evening meal, lace up your walking shoes. Getting out of the house and walking around the block for just 30 minutes every night can have a huge impact on your level of health and your lifestyle. Plus, you’ll be able to more easily break the TV habit because you’re replacing it with something else.
Get Everyone Involved
Chances are if you’re a couch potato, you’re not watching alone. There are probably other people in your home who are just as addicted to television, and who might need a break from the couch. Whether it’s your spouse or your entire family, you can be the force for change at home:
- Encourage everyone to set limits for television and try doing some group activities together.
- Spend your weekends out of the house and doing some activities in your local community.
- Join a club that gets you outside of the house and away from the TV.
These outside activities don’t have to be exercise, but you get bonus points if you can find a way to get moving together!
Breaking your couch potato lifestyle isn’t easy. But like any habit, it can be done. Look for opportunities to turn off the television and get moving. And, most importantly, have fun while you’re at it.