50 (Healthy!) Things to Do Instead of Watching TV

50 (healthy!) things to do instead of watching TV // Tips and ideas for accomplishing more and reaching your personal, wellness, or professional goals by spending less time in front of the TV // Wellness tips for healthy living at Four Wellness Co.

Though there are many beneficial uses of technology to live a healthier, more fulfilling life, there are also ways in which technology can hinder a healthy lifestyle. One particular way access to technology can cause negative health effects is too much time in front of the TV.

Now, let’s be clear: television is not inherently meaningless and evil. There are plenty of lovely, meaningful programs that provide happiness, enjoyment, fulfillment, and even education—all good things. But, there also happen to be plenty of real, scientific reasons that regular TV-watching isn’t ideal for overall health and happiness.

It’s not that TV itself is harmful—it’s probably not. But there are other things associated with TV-watching that are.

How often do you watch TV standing up? Not much, probably. Studies have shown that more sitting equates to earlier mortality. We sit so often during our daily lives anyway (thanks, desk job) that any additional hours sitting motionless in front of the TV are increasingly detrimental.

Another negative side effect of TV comes from advertisements. Americans are exposed to thousands of advertisements each day, a good chunk of those via TV. Numerous studies have connected media exposure and mental illness, most notably depression, and a large part of that is ads. It makes sense: the more we’re told how much we need or don’t have, the less complete and happy we feel.

Time spent in front of the TV is also negatively correlated with healthy and fulfilling relationships. Though sometimes we can have great bonding experiences with family and friends as we watch the same show together (or it becomes a fun topic of conversation at work), tuning into the TV instead of others around us can detract from our interpersonal relationships. For example, plopping down in front of the TV each evening may reduce the time you spend connecting with your partner (or, if you have them, playing and connecting with your kids).

This isn’t to say that you should never watch TV ever because it will ruin your health and make you sad—if you enjoy it, then go for it in moderation!

The wellness lesson here is that it’s important to intentionally choose your time in front of the TV while being aware that there are also plenty of options for downtime other than reaching for the remote.

Americans spend, on average, 2.8 hours in front of the TV each day. That’s over a thousand hours per year. If you’d really like to invest those thousand hours in your TV, then great, you’re likely on the right track. But if there’s something else you’ve been yearning to do “if I only had more time,” then re-purposing some of those TV hours is a good starting place.

So, if you’re interested in spending (at least part of) your daily TV hours another way, here are 50 (healthy!) ways to do that:


  1. Go for a walk (perhaps check out a new neighborhood for a change of scenery) to get your 10,000 steps

  2. Read a good book (maybe one about healthy living)

  3. Write a book

  4. Write a letter/email to a far-away friend

  5. Clean your house really thoroughly (with safe cleaning products of course)

  6. Clean out your closet and donate unwanted clothes (or host a clothes swap with your friends!)

  7. Call a friend/relative to say hi (bonus: take a walk while you’re talking)

  8. Cook a delicious homemade meal

  9. Plan and host a dinner party

  10. Go through your cookbooks/bookmarked recipes/favorite food blogs and make a list of recipes you want to try; make your menu and grocery list for the week

  11. Join a fitness class

  12. Go for a hike

  13. Go for a bike ride

  14. Do yoga (or just some stretching)

  15. Make your lunch for the next day so you don’t have to eat out

  16. Do yard work

  17. Start a blog

  18. Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about

  19. Do a craft of your choice

  20. Practice (or learn) an instrument

  21. Practice (or learn) a foreign language

  22. Decorate your home

  23. Make art for your home (or as a gift)

  24. Meditate

  25. Join a class to learn a new hobby (photography? figure skating?)

  26. Research something you’ve been wanting to know more about

  27. Plan a vacation—even just a weekend getaway to see/do something new

  28. Attend an interesting local event

  29. Write an article and submit it to a publication in your field

  30. Practice Random Acts of Kindness

  31. Plant a garden

  32. Start a journal

  33. Train for a fitness goal, like a 5k, half marathon, or marathon

  34. Wash your car (don’t forget the inside too!)

  35. Do a task or chore for someone else so they don’t have to do it

  36. Play a sport you enjoy (join a league?)

  37. Host a board games night for friends/family

  38. Go to trivia night at a local bar or restaurant

  39. Bake healthy treats to take to work or your neighbors

  40. Have a picnic in the park (if the weather’s not great, have a picnic party in your living room)

  41. Plan and host a theme party (Murder Mystery, etc.)

  42. Write a Bucket List and start working on checking things off

  43. Write in your gratitude journal

  44. Plan and host a girls’ night (or boys’, depending who’s reading this…)

  45. Plan and take on a 30-day (or 100-day!) challenge (clean eating, exercise, 1,000 words a day, etc.)

  46. Make a financial plan and set steps to meet your financial goals

  47. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

  48. Do at-home spa treatments

  49. Practice your self-care activities

  50. Join a fun group on Meetup.com


Next time you find yourself aimlessly reaching for the remote, consider trying one of the activities above that interests you instead.

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