Archive for the tag - television

“Biggest Loser” Viewers Turned Off to Exercise.

Back before I canceled cable, I managed to catch a few episodes of “The Biggest Loser.”

In a nutshell, severely overweight contestants compete to lose weight and win a million dollar prize. Doctors remind the participants that their current path is one that will likely end in early death – and thus the competition begins!

I remember being taken aback by the Hollywood-ification of weight loss. Even without screaming celebrity trainers, extreme diets, tears, vomiting, obstacle courses and dozens of cameras in your face, losing weight still tends to be a pretty dramatic process. Even though “The Biggest Loser” is far from the typical experience of following a sustainable exercise and nutrition regimen, it certainly makes for good TV. And great ratings.

I’ve always wondered how watching shows like the biggest loser – wherein contestants literally run, jump and climb until they collapse in a pool of their own puke – shapes viewers’ perceptions of exercise. A new study, which will be published in the American Journal of Health Behavior, aims to answer that very question.

According to the study’s lead author:

The depictions of exercise on shows like “The Biggest Loser” are really negative. People are screaming and crying and throwing up, and if you’re not a regular exerciser you might think this is what exercise is – that it’s this horrible experience where you have to push yourself to the extremes and the limits, which is completely wrong.”

For the study, researchers had college students watch either an exercise clip from “The Biggest Loser” or a performance clip from “American Idol.” After watching the clip, participants’ attitudes about exercise were examined. Regardless of fitness level, participants who watched “The Biggest Loser” had more negative attitudes about exercise.

While the study is fairly limited and not without its flaws, the conclusion is no surprise. I, for one, am traumatized just at the thought of Jillian Michaels screaming in my ear while strapped to a treadmill and begging for mercy.

In actuality, sustainable weight loss isn’t about extremes. Sure, you need to push yourself. But it’s done in a practical, realistic and even enjoyable way. It’s not something to fear, but rather something to relish and appreciate. Finding small ways to make your life healthier is a joyful experience. But who wants to watch that on TV?

Do you think shows like “The Biggest Loser” inspire viewers to improve their health – or do you think these types of shows make viewers even more intimated and reluctant to change their lives with exercise? Let me know in the comments below.

Is The TV The Center of Your Home?

Yesterday, I shared two interesting studies linking TV ownership and “screen time” to heart attacks and premature death. The link isn’t so much with the television itself; instead, it’s the sedentary lifestyle that TV watching helps to support.

When I graduated university and moved to Washington, DC, television wasn’t a priority. Because money was tight, I wasn’t interested in paying a monthly cable bill. Instead of watching TV, I engaged in a number of activities that greatly improved the quality of my life – like reading books, going on adventures and taking yoga classes.

In 2009, I finally cracked and bought a TV. But in placing the screen in my home, I was certain of one thing: I wouldn’t make it a focal point.

In so many homes, clusters of chairs and couches surround television sets in the same way that benches and stools once surrounded campfires. Or, the way that pews might surround an altar. The focus of the room – and in some cases the entire home – is the almighty television set. That’s not for me.

In my home, the television is more of an afterthought than a focal point.

In my home, the television is more of an afterthought. My living room is furnished to support conversation and face time. The seats face each other – not a screen. In fact, there’s really no good seat from which to view the television. And I like it that way.

Let’s be real: Televisions aren’t going anywhere. I don’t think it’s realistic or wise to wage a crusade against something that some few of us are willing to throw away. But, simply by shifting the way we organize and furnish our homes, we’re able to lessen the role that the TV plays in our lives. Instead of building homes that encourage sedentary lifestyles, we can use design to help facilitate the things we really value. Like each other, and our health.

ATTN Couch Potatoes: Television Ownership Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack.

Calling all couch potatoes...

In building a healthy lifestyle for you and your loved ones, would you consider throwing out the television? According to a new global study published in the European Heart Journal, simply owning a television and a car increases your risk of a heart attack by 27%.

Of course, the television and car – in and of themselves – aren’t to blame. Instead, it’s the sedentary lifestyle that both instruments serve to support. Televisions and cars are markers of sedentary lifestyle.

One can assume that without a television, individuals spend increased leisure time in other activities like walking, hiking, sports, etc. Similarly, without a car, people spend more time traveling on foot or biking. These instances of physical activity help improve cardiovascular function and serve to lower the risk of heart attack.

In a separate, soon-to-be-published study in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers measured the impact of television and computer “screen time” on heart disease and premature death. They concluded that “people who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen – primarily watching TV – are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heart related problems.”

In fact, spending 2 – 4 hours a day in front of a screen increased mortality by 48%. Spending 4 or more hours increased the mortality rate by a shocking 125%. Moreover, the associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, social class, exercise, etc.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise every adult to get at least 150 minutes of physical exercise per week, but the European Heart Journal study suggests that cardiovascular benefits can be reaped even at lower levels.

The bottom line: To support a healthy lifestyle, minimize sedentary time and maximize your active time – even if it’s just a few extra minutes a day of movement. And turn off that TV!

Video: Exercise Routine for Commercial Breaks

A week ago, I wrote a post wherein I recommended exercising during commercial breaks while watching TV.

A number of blog buddies asked me to create a sample commercial break fitness routine. So I put together this total body workout for those 2 and a half minute commercial breaks. Enjoy trying it out!

And feel free to use this as a general guide – customize it so that it works for you and the duration of your commercial break.

FTD: Jersey Shore IS Actually Killing You.

On Jersey Shore, they like to say “FTD”, an abbreviation for “fresh to death”. Translated from Jersinglish, it means that you always have the latest gear, newest shoes and hottest clothes – and that you will until you die. But as it turns out, your impending death may be sooner than you think thanks to the likes of your favorite television shows.

A 2010 research study conclusively linked TV watching to increased mortality rates. How bad is it?

People who watched four hours of TV a day were 80% more likely to die of heart disease than people who watch 2 hours or less. But it doesn’t end there – those people who watched four hours a day of TV were also 46% more likely to die from any cause over the lesser watching counterparts.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why. People who watch excessive television are more likely to live inactive, sedentary lifestyles. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

If you feel like sitting back on the couch, get up and move instead. Or – if you want to kill two birds with one stone, watch TV while exercising. Even if you can’t get out of your house to the gym, jump rope during commercial breaks or do some jumping jacks. Get your heart pumping and the blood flowing.

Now we know what we all suspected – that Jersey Shore is, in fact, deadly. Looks like we’ve got ourselves “a situation”.