Turn Off Your TV

Today I’m known by many as a massage therapist. But years ago I received my bachelor of fine arts degree in film and television production. I worked in the industry creating documentaries, commercials and corporate educational programs.tvtrash

Yet, we only have one television in our home. We don’t have cable or satellite programing either – much to the constant lament of our two teenage children. However, I find the programming on network television insulting. The only television I make time for is Nova and Frontline on PBS. Occasionally I watch the local news which I find insulting every time they refer to the newscast as a “show” as in “later in the show well have your complete weather forecast followed by more stories about people doing nasty things to each other.” It’s really all trash and I’m relieved not to be part of the industry any longer.

So this week, when my daughter informed me of the incentive from her algebra teacher to gain student participation in “Turn Off Your TV Week,” I gladly told her that I’d join in her efforts. After all, we’ve been without TV in the past. One time the TV actually broke and I delayed having it repaired for two weeks. After it was repaired, I forgot to plug it in and no one really missed it! It can be done.

But if you’ve been addicted to the TV for some time now, it can be like withdraw from electric morphine.

So, I’d like to give you some reasons to make the effort more justifiable. To start, TV viewing is entirely passive. Sure you might cheer your favorite sports team, or laugh at the misfortune of someone caught in an embarrassing situation in what we label “America’s Funniest Videos” – but you’re not doing anything! You’re sitting in a chair, passive.

This passivity is the root to the increase in the rates of morbid obesity, diabetes, heart disease and their related complications like asthma, arthritis and depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 20% of children aged 2-17 are categorized as obese. And the trend is getting worse. As a result, the CDC recommends, among other things, “reducing time spent watching TV and other sedentary activities.”

Some interesting stats:

There are 2.55 people in the average American household, yet the average American household has 2.73 televisions! We have more televisions that people in the U.S.!

50% of American households have 3 or more TVs, whereas in 1975 only 11% had 3 or more TVs.

57% of children aged 9-13 have a TV in their bedroom.

Based on these simple figures, it seems that our culture values passivity and isolation – two key components of anyone suffering from disease. As a comparision, those centarians (people who live over 100 years) tend to have lifestyles that are active with strong social networks. I bet they don’t watch much TV – they’re too busy with their social lives. It’s true!

So to help ease your withdraw from the electric morphine, here are some things to keep you busy during the “shakes”:

Eat a healthy meal together as a family
Play a sport, like a game of baseball, soccer, frisbee, tag
Fly a kite
Play a musical instrument
Build something like a birdhouse
Listen to music
Read a book
Bake bread
Garden
Play a game like cards, Scrabble, Monopoly, etc.
Go camping
Go for a walk
Meet your neighbor

The list can go on and on.

The bottom line is try it. The national no-TV week started on April 21 and runs through April 27th, but you can start now, because there really isn’t anything on to watch.

Here are some other resources you might find helpful or interesting:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Center for Screentime Awareness

Turn Off Your TV

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About Paul Kulpinski, LMT

Paul Kulpinski is a licensed massage therapist, holistic wellness coach and co-founder of Mountain Waves Healing Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona with over 15 years experience in helping people achieve their optimum state of well being. Information contained in this blog should not be taken as medical advice. Readers are advised to validate the information presented here with other sources including your personal physician for information specific to you.
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