How to Quit Your TV Addiction

If your tube watching is beyond just a habit, here are a few ways to rein it in.

If you watch every episode of Grey’s Anatomy straight through (that’s 12 seasons), you’d be watching TV for 200 hours – and that’s without breaks for ads.

With the advent of the DVR, Netflix (hello, no commercials), Hulu and Amazon Instant Video, it’s no surprise we’ve made TV even more of habit than it was when we all just had plain ol’ cable.

Binge watching is a common practice today. Deloitte reports, 68 percent of those surveyed watched at least three episodes of a program in a single sitting. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Summary, watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time — at 2.8 hours per day.

This statistic is particularly disheartening, as research also indicates the average adult gets only 17 minutes of fitness activity each day.

We’re all guilty of skipping the occasional workout, especially at the end of a long day at the office. But when your idea of a marathon is less “26.2” and more “consecutive episodes of ‘Law & Order,’” it may be time to cut the cord.

View TV Time as an Incentive

We all need rewards for putting in time and hard work at the gym. So use TV as your incentive.

Tell yourself you can only watch TV when you’re at the gym. Bring your headphones and plug into a treadmill or elliptical while you watch your show on one of the overhead TVs.

Got two shows you’re planning to watch? Or an extra-long season finale? Better plan for a double shift on that stationary bike. Rules are rules.

Use The Ad Minutes

Though GEICO would love for you to be 100 percent attentive during its cute gecko commercials, why not put that time to better use? Instead of staying parked on the couch during ad breaks, get in some cardio.

Keep your stop-watch handy and start it each time an ad set comes on. Run in place, do jumping jacks, burpees, pushups, sit-ups or mountain climbers. Whatever you do, just keep moving. Stop the time when the show returns. At the end of an hour-long show, you’ll rack up about 15 minutes of exercise.

Go Cold Turkey

If you’re game to nix TV all together, just rip off that Band-Aid. Cancel subscriptions so you’re not paying for a service you’re not using, and then get outside. It won’t be easy at first. You’ll miss your favorite shows, and may feel a little left out at work when your co-workers are talking about all the season premiers around the watercooler. But remember — you’re putting your time to better use. A little small talk about what happened on “Nurse Jackie” hardly compares to the favor you’re doing for your body.

Some of us watch TV because we’re afraid of quiet; too much time with our own thoughts. If you don’t like quiet but are trying to get rid of that time-suck of a television, give podcasts a listen.

Download casts like “Call Your Girlfriend,” “Modern Love” and “This American Life.” They’ll fill the quiet space and they’re more intellectually stimulating than that next episode of “Teen Mom.” Plus, you can multi-task. Pop in those headphones and take a hike … literally.

Opt for Quality not Quantity

We’re not talking about the quality of TV shows … because let’s be honest, sometimes, the trashier the better. “Keeping up with Kardashians” anyone? We’re talking about quality as far as intention. Are you watching a show just because it’s what’s on? Because you’ve run out of shows you’re interested in? Because you’re bored?

Opt for TV shows that you value — for the purpose of relaxation, social benefit or genuine curiosity. If you and your friends love to kick back on Monday nights and watch “The Bachelorette,” consider that it benefits you socially and is relaxing. And if you’re super interested in the new History Channel documentary on Lincoln, dig in and get your smart on.

With moderation in mind, guilty pleasures certainly have their place. But if you’re just watching TV because it’s easier, flip it off! Get out for a good workout instead.

And don’t forget about the other screens. Make sure you set off “blackout” times for yourself, when you plan and adhere to putting down your mobile devices, tablets and laptops enjoying time technology free, in addition to staying away from the TV.

The CDC recommends two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise each week, as well as muscle conditioning on at least two days each week. Make this your goal, instead of speeding through that Netflix Original. Need some workout inspiration? Try this runner’s workout on for size.