Cut back TV time, burn more calories

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© Tom Grill/Corbis

It may seem obvious that spending less time lounging on the couch may help burn more calories, but a team of researchers from the University of Vermont recently confirmed that cutting back daily TV time increases the amount of calories you burn. The study, published last month in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, included 36 adults who were either overweight or obese, and who watched at least three hours of TV per day. Twenty participants were randomly assigned to cut their TV time in half—which researchers enforced with a timer that would lock them out after their allotted viewing time expired. At the end of the three week trial, participants who’d had their TV time cut in half burned an average of 120 extra calories per day—or roughly the equivalent of half a candy bar—compared with those who carried on with their routine viewing habits.

While cutting back on TV time helped participants burn more calories, it didn’t impact the amount of calories they consumed each day, researchers found. Still, burning 120 extra calories per day is a start. As Dr. Jennifer Otten, lead author of the study, told the New York Times: “If you add it up over time, it’s equivalent to walking eight miles a week. Over a year, it might help prevent weight gain of 12 pounds.”