9 Reasons to Turn Off the TV

Even better than being active while watching TV is pulling the plug altogether.

Your Health and Hours Spent Watching Television
Less hours spent watching television can help you live a healthy lifestyle.

Yes, there are other things you can do in your living room! Activities that allow you to interact with friends and family members—such as a lively game of cards—are easy ways to decompress while keeping your mind working. And if you just can’t be compelled to get off the couch, why not at least invite your sweetheart to join you? If your intimacy leads you to the bedroom, all the better: Sex is a renowned stress reliever. One scientific study demonstrated that when couples have sex, their blood pressure returns to normal more quickly the next time they encounter a stressful situation—and the effect lasts for as much as a week.

[step-list-wrapper title=”” time=””] [step-item number=”1. ” image_url=”” title=”Create a game cabinet.” ]Appoint yourself your household’s “game master” and stock a shelf or cabinet with board games and other amusements. Set a night every week on which you flick off the television, invite some friends over, and play dominoes, Monopoly, Scrabble, poker, Parcheesi, or some other mind-bender. You’ll get a mental workout, engage in some friendly competition, and have some sugar-lowering laughs. [/step-item]

[step-item number=”2. ” image_url=”” title=”Put together an enormous jigsaw puzzle.” ]There’s something Zen-like in the quiet, contemplative process of slowly building a jigsaw puzzle. You turn your attention for hours on the minute detail of a painting or photograph, and gradually the image materializes before your eyes. Buy the biggest jigsaw you can handle—some have thousands of pieces—and devote a card table or other surface to this low-tech, stress-relieving pursuit. You’ll happily let the television stay dark for the evening (and, if the puzzle’s big enough, many evenings to come). It’s just as good a solitary activity as it is fun for the whole family.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”3. ” image_url=”” title=”Organize your family photos.” ]What household doesn’t have a mountain of snapshots that need to be organized? Dispensing with this source of clutter will be stress relief in itself, but you also will get an emotional lift when you glimpse the photos again. If you don’t already have a photo organization system, try this: Find a shoebox or another box that’s the right width to accommodate snapshots. Use cardboard rectangles as dividers between categories of photos. (You can also buy photo boxes with these dividers.) Write a category label across the top of each divider (“Martha,” “Christmas,” “Family,” and “Pets,” for instance). As you go through each envelope of photos, slide the very best into an album, file other photos you want to keep into the appropriate category in your shoebox, and throw out the rest.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”4. ” image_url=”” title=”Play a game of ‘musical massage’ with your partner.” ]Load your CD player (one that accepts multiple disks) with music that gets you “in the mood.” You make half of the selections, and your partner makes half. Light a candle and turn out the lights. Turn on the music, and be sure to set the player on random mode, also known as “shuffle.” The rules of the game are simple: As long as a song you selected is playing, you are giving the massage. As long as a song your partner selected is playing, your partner is giving the massage. “Play” continues until the two of you think of something else to do.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]

[step-list-wrapper title=”” time=””] [step-item number=”5. ” image_url=”” title=”Go on a romantic ‘campout’ tonight.” ]For an adventurous approach to intimacy, “camp out” in the living room for the night. Move the coffee table and other obstructions out of the living room to create a wide open space. Bring into the room any large potted plants. Get two battery-powered camping lanterns (fuel-powered lanterns are a no-no inside) and zip two sleeping bags together. Put a nature sounds CD on the stereo. Have a bowl of berries and a couple of steamy romance novels at the ready. Slide into the giant sleeping bag with your partner. Take turns feeding each other berries and reading passages from the novels to each other.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”6. ” image_url=”” title=”Challenge your dog to tug-of-war.” ]If you have a large dog, you can get a pretty good workout this way. Teach Spot to tug on one end of a length of rope while you hold the other. Holding your elbow at your side, slowly raise your hand to your shoulder and lower it again (the bicep curl motion). When your bicep (the muscle on the front of your upper arm) tires, exercise the tricep (the muscle on the back): Starting with your arm straight down at your side, move your hand backward, pulling on the rope, and then return your hand to the starting position. When your arm tires, switch to your other arm and repeat both exercises.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”7. ” image_url=”” title=”Play hide-and-seek with Fido.” ]Give your dog a command to stay in the kitchen, and then go hide elsewhere in the house—behind the couch, behind a door, or in a closet, for instance. Then call your dog. If he obeyed the “stay” command until you called and was able to find you, give him a treat. A few rounds of hide-and-seek will reinforce your pet’s training and give you a bit of exercise to boot.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”8. ” image_url=”” title=”Offer 15 minutes of ‘fetch.'” ]Identify a stretch of the room that’s at least 10 feet long, preferably 15 or 20 feet. Stand at one end of this “runway,” and toss a toy or ball for your dog (or cat, if it’s willing to play). Choose an item that won’t harm the floor, walls, or furniture—preferably one that makes noise. Most pets will get the hang of this game quickly and return the ball to you again and again. Every time you receive the ball, do a knee-bend as you take it from the dog’s mouth. Your dog may be doing more work, but the throwing, bending, and reaching is doing you some good as well.[/step-item]

[step-item number=”9. ” image_url=”” title=”Play ‘fish’ with your kitty.” ]Go to the pet store and buy a “cat-fishing” rig—a yard-long plastic rod with a string on one end that dangles a feathery toy. When you get home, stand in the living room holding the rod and letting the toy rest against the floor. Your cat will creep toward the toy. Test your own reflexes against your kitty’s: Can you snatch the toy away just before she pounces? You can alternate between tapping the toy on the floor and dangling in the air to give Muffy her exercise.[/step-item][/step-list-wrapper]

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest