EXERCISE
February 8, 2010

The TV Reduction Diet

Want to burn 120 calories a day? Just turn off your TV. This small change can have a big impact on health and weight.

A new study from the University of Vermont reports that cutting back on the amount of time spent in front of the TV helped people become more active in their daily routines. Participants who cut back on the time they spent watching TV ended up burning an average of 120 more calories per day than they might have otherwise.

"That's the equivalent of more than a mile of walking a day,” said researcher Jennifer Otten.

While none said that they engaged in weight−lifting or marathon−running as a result, the participants did report adding moderate levels of activity to their routines, including pastimes like yoga, gardening, and housework.

Thirty−six participants taking part in the study voluntarily cut back on their TV−time by about 50%, compared to their pre−study levels. While none said that they engaged in weight−lifting or marathon−running as a result, the participants did report adding moderate levels of activity to their routines, including pastimes like yoga, gardening, and housework.

While participants did not cut the calories they consumed over the course of the study, they still increased the amount of energy burned by becoming active in the ways mentioned above – which, over time, could lead to changes in body weight. The three−week study was too short to see any significant changes in body mass index, but Otten says that “they appeared to be going in the right direction.”

Making a small change like turning off the TV could be an easy way to spark larger, lasting changes, say the researchers. "It's easier to think about turning off the TV and seeing what happened than enrolling in a weight−loss class and attending," Otten said. It may also prove a helpful tool for doctors, as they try to help patients tackle their weight issues over the long−term.

The study was published in the December 14/28, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

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