Here's an interesting study reported by the NY Times relevant to a time when plenty of us settle in front of the television with more regularity. Researchers at the University of Vermont wanted to see the effects of watching less TV on a daily basis. One could make the obvious assumption that watching less would mean more active lifestyles, but specific to this study are findings that cutting TV viewing didn't make the participants any more active or eat any less, but it still made them thinner...the equivalent of walking about eight miles a week!
To the researchers' surprise, cutting back television time didn't have an effect on calorie consumption, nor did it change sleep habits. The group that watched less television did, however, move more, burning an average of 120 calories more a day than the control group.
We watch perhaps 1 hour per day on average, not including some DVD exercise videos we work out to when the weather is too glum/wet for our running regimen, so we're not too worried about couch potato syndrome and cutting back (my girlfriend used to make fun of me for doing tricep dips or curling while watching TV). But the study is a good reminder during the holidays, when we often have the urge to veg out in front of the telly for extended marathon viewing sessions, to just turn it off and spend some time doing something more productive, and apparently better for our figures and health.
Read the complete report over at How Less TV Changes Your Day.