Turning off TV Addiction

Like the millions of other people in the country, I watched the Emmys last night.

There’s just something about the red carpet fashion, celebrity antics and other staged moments gone wrong that I have just a slight addiction to. One odd thing, however, is I haven’t watched any of the shows that were nominated.

It got me thinking, I don’t watch that much television, probably two hours or less a day, but is that even too much?

In an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011, researchers combined data from eight studies linking health to hours spent watching TV and found that for every two hours people spend watching the tube, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20 percent and their risk of heart disease increases by 15 percent.

With as much time as our society spends in front of some sort of screen, mostly computers and smart phones, our added window for “healthy” TV consumption is pretty much non-existent.

And according to data from Nielsen, our time in front of the TV only gets worse with age. Children aged 2 to 11 were found to watch over 24 hours of TV per week, while adults aged 35 to 49 watch more than 33 hours.

So what do you do when you’ve already been glued to the tube for this long and the list of shows you love hits the double digits?

Take these tips and adjust to a healthier viewing routine:

Practice Balance

Technology has made it easier than ever to binge watch TV. Netflix has an entire three seasons of your favorite show just waiting for you, and DVR allows you to record any other shows you might miss, so why wouldn’t you take advantage and get a full dose when you don’t have to wait for next week’s episode?

What we need to realize is just because you have access to an entire bank of television shows doesn’t mean you should have regular marathons. If you’re laid up in bed sick or there’s a natural disaster happening outside, by all means do a little TV marathoning, but not when you’re perfectly capable of being active or enjoying a nice day from a place other than your couch.

Bottom line, the TV isn’t going anywhere, there’s no need to camp out in front of it for hours on end. If TV is how you unwind, keep it limited to one episode a night of your favorite show or an hour spent vegging out. Then it’s time to move on to another activity like reading or preparing for the following day so you can get some extra shut eye in the morning.


Make Friends with a DVR

Coinciding with practicing balance, learn to use DVR to your advantage. Rather than sitting to watch a show in its entirety, with probably 20 minutes of that hour-long show being commercials, record it.

You’ll spend less time actually sitting in front of the TV and you’ll avoid creating the habit of catering your schedule to the TV guide, which doesn’t leave much room for life to happen.

Break free from time-consuming commercials and a time table that relies on television programming, and we guarantee your life will become healthier in more way than one.



This habit developed in college, but I have to say out of all the habits that can develop in that chapter of life, this one was pretty good.

Back in college I had little time to watch TV, and for a couple of years I couldn’t even afford it. However, when I did have access to television and felt like watching a show or two, I had to justify that time doing something that needed to get done, but didn’t require concentration. Hence, multitasking.

Folding laundry, cleaning out my purse, wrapping a birthday present, etc. These were all things I did when watching TV because although these tasks were too hands on to do while simultaneously trying to study, it didn’t require so much concentration that watching TV was impossible to do at the same time.

So next time you feel like watching TV instead of crossing off your to-do list, just do both at the same time.


Just Say No

Stop and think about how many shows you like to watch. Are there any that you could absolutely live without? Any that provide zero value to your existence (i.e. you don’t learn anything or laugh from that show)?

Sure there are plenty of shows you could easily sit through and mindlessly watch, but are they also shows you wouldn’t miss watching? Why waste your time?

Sometimes it just takes saying no to letting an external factor dictate how you spend your day. Same goes for things like social media. If you’re spending too much time being consumed, it’s time to exhibit a little self-control and just cut it off at the source.



At the end of the day, life is too short to spend a good portion of it watching stories of other people’s lives through a glowing box.

TV is meant to be merely a method of entertainment, but there are so many other things out there that are not only entertaining, but also good for your body and soul. Things like playing outside with your kids, learning a new skill with your husband or spending time doing something you love to do in solitude.

There’s a big world out there, don’t view it all through your TV screen.


Sources: CNN Health, NY Daily News


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Elle Michels

Elle Michels

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Michels is a contributing writer to Womenshealth.com.

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