Turn off the TV and Turn Up Time for Fitness
What to do with less screen time
By Monica Scott, Fitness Coordinator, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor, UVA Intramural-Recreational Sports Department
Why turn off the TV? Time spent in front of the television cuts into family time and personal time and is one of the leading causes of obesity in both children and adults. On average, Americans watch about 4 hours of television each day. TV use for recreational purposes leads to a more sedentary and solitary lifestyle, which is unhealthy for both mind and body.
With busy work schedules, family obligations and demanding weekends, it can be difficult to work in the recommended amount of physical activity. By turning off the TV, we have time to think, read, do the things we never have time for, and most importantly, MOVE! Lack of screen time allows us to meet the recommendations for physical activity. In turn, physical activity can help us connect with our family and utilize the resources in the community.
So how much exercise do I need?
For the average healthy adult, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and American Heart Association (AHA) recommend moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week or vigorously intensive cardiovascular exercise 20 minutes a day, three days a week. In addition, the ACSM recommends 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, with 8 to 12 repetitions each, twice a week.
Why not try these Moderately Intense Activities:
- Walking at a brisk pace
- Sweeping floors
- Carpet Vacuuming
- Mowing the Lawn
- Bicycling-flat road; light
- Basketball-shooting around
- Swimming leisurely
Work out less with Vigorously Intense Activities:
- Bicycling-flat road; moderate to fast pace
- Soccer-casual or competitive
Don’t forget about Strength Training with:
- Weight-training programs
- Weight-bearing calisthenics
- Stair climbing
How to get started
Starting a physical activity program may seem daunting, but by turning off the TV to create more time and following these easy tips, we can all move a little more, enhance our relationships, our mind and our bodies.
- Exercise as a family. Invite family and friends to be active to encourage a lifetime of health and wellness.
- Moderate-intensity bouts of 10 minutes can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes straight—great for a busy schedule.
- Vary your exercise between moderate- and vigorous-intensity. For example, walk briskly for 30 minutes twice per week and jog at a higher intensity on two other days.
- Set aside specific days and times for exercise; make it just as much a regular part of your schedule as everything else.
- Head outdoors! Daily recommended amounts of physical activity can be accomplished without setting foot in a gym.
For more information, check out this special report in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.