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TV Turnoff Challenge

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Watching TV Raises Risk of Diabetes

School’s out and we want to be outside! With warmer weather, longer days and fewer responsibilities, it’s the ideal time for the whole family to reconnect with the great outdoors. Activities like swimming, biking and playing soccer are not only fun, they may improve your overall health. We’ve previously discussed how outdoor recreation can reduce stress, improve memory, and support heart health. A 2015 study published in Diabetologia gives you yet another reason to get outside, linking TV watching to increased risk of diabetes.

The Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group followed more than 3,200 adults enrolled in the Diabetes Prevention Program, an intervention designed to decrease risk of diabetes. Participants tracked both time spent exercising and watching television for over 3 years. For each hour spent watching TV, the risk of developing diabetes increased by 3.4%. This was even true for people who were physically active, emphasizing that any sedentary time can be harmful to your health.

Don’t let your family fall into a TV rut! Take advantage of the summertime weather and liven up your evening routine. Instead of watching sitcom reruns, bring the whole family outdoors and get active in the evenings. Take a pre- or post-dinner walk, shoot some hoops, play with the dog, or recruit the neighbors for a game of flashlight tag. During the day, get children involved with activities like day camp, swimming classes, or a local sports league.

Challenge your family to turn off the TV, and see how long you can go—a night, a few days or even a week? Come up with an incentive to stay active—perhaps a trip to the zoo or beach—to make the challenge fun for everyone.

BONUS: There could be more harm in watching TV than just inactivity. A 2013 study found that teens with a high ability to remember fast food advertising were more likely to be obese, and possibly more likely to continue eating calorie-dense foods, according to the researchers.

First Published June 2015

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