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Cutting TV Time Burns More Calories
Date:12/14/2009

Study found simple activities like housework, gardening replaced tube watching

MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- James Crouse was watching 25 or 26 hours of television a week until he enrolled in a study that required him to cut his tube time in half.

During his enforced period of deprivation, Crouse burned considerably more calories each day, and not necessarily through strenuous exercise, although he did find his running increased.

Much of his newly freed time was spent reading and working on the computer, said Crouse, 52, a semi-retired math teacher living in Essex Junction, Vt.

Crouse was one of 36 participants taking part in a study to see what turning off the TV did to lifestyle habits.

On average, participants burned 120 more calories a day and spent about 50 percent less time plunked in front of the TV than they had before starting the study.

"That's the equivalent of more than a mile of walking a day," said study author Jennifer Otten. The research, which appears in the Dec. 14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, was conducted while Otten was working at the University of Vermont.

Most reported filling the extra time not with grueling periods on the treadmill, but with "light" activities such as housework, gardening, yoga or organizing photos.

The finding -- that less time watching TV means more calories burned -- is hardly surprising but may provide clinicians with a new tool to stem the tide of overweight and obesity.

There was no reduction in calorie intake in those watching less TV.

This three-week study wasn't long enough to see major changes in body mass index or weight although, Otten said, "they appeared to be going in the right direction."

Of course, the perennial challenge is how to motivate people to actually make these changes.

"It's always good to have information like this but unless people act
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