50 (Healthy!) Things to Do Instead of Watching TV
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:
THINGS TO DO INSTEAD OF WATCHING TV
Go for a walk (perhaps check out a new neighborhood for a change of scenery) to get your 10,000 steps
Read a good book (maybe one about healthy living)
Write a book
Write a letter/email to a far-away friend
Clean your house really thoroughly (with safe cleaning products of course)
Clean out your closet and donate unwanted clothes (or host a clothes swap with your friends!)
Call a friend/relative to say hi (bonus: take a walk while you’re talking)
Plan and host a dinner party
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
Join a fitness class
Go for a hike
Go for a bike ride
Do yoga (or just some stretching)
Make your lunch for the next day so you don’t have to eat out
Do yard work
Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about
Do a craft of your choice
Practice (or learn) an instrument
Practice (or learn) a foreign language
Decorate your home
Make art for your home (or as a gift)
Join a class to learn a new hobby (photography? figure skating?)
Research something you’ve been wanting to know more about
Plan a vacation—even just a weekend getaway to see/do something new
Attend an interesting local event
Write an article and submit it to a publication in your field
Practice Random Acts of Kindness
Plant a garden
Start a journal
Train for a fitness goal, like a 5k, half marathon, or marathon
Wash your car (don’t forget the inside too!)
Do a task or chore for someone else so they don’t have to do it
Play a sport you enjoy (join a league?)
Host a board games night for friends/family
Go to trivia night at a local bar or restaurant
Have a picnic in the park (if the weather’s not great, have a picnic party in your living room)
Plan and host a theme party (Murder Mystery, etc.)
Write a Bucket List and start working on checking things off
Write in your gratitude journal
Plan and host a girls’ night (or boys’, depending who’s reading this…)
Plan and take on a 30-day (or 100-day!) challenge (clean eating, exercise, 1,000 words a day, etc.)
Make a financial plan and set steps to meet your financial goals
Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
Do at-home spa treatments
Practice your self-care activities
Join a fun group on Meetup.com
FOUR WELLNESS TIP
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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