This article has been kindly supplied by our regular contributor, Jared Hill.
For many people, the hectic pace of daily life is simply too much to handle at times. And while the digital era has brought us an innumerable amount of conveniences, it’s also made it nearly impossible to escape and simply take a moment to relax. Between work responsibilities, your personal life, and anything and everything else that sneaks its way into your schedule, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Winding down and taking a moment to watch TV may seem like a quick way to become a couch potato, and leave you feeling guilty, but it can actually do more for your health than you realize!
Of course, we’re not advocating living a sedentary lifestyle, but there have been studies that have shown a relationship between stress reduction and laughter. In fact, in a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, they showed that laughter stimulates your organs almost immediately, thanks to your increased oxygen intake. It also causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure (similar to exercise, though not as extreme). This means that with humorous shows, you’ll immediately get a release of endorphins, which not only create a feeling of euphoria but also reduce physical pain. The study showed that frequently having a good laugh will even improve your immune system, since there is a direct correlation between negative thoughts manifesting and chemical reactions in the body, which in turn can lead to illness. In other words, people who laugh more often are not only happier, but healthier. I bet you didn’t know you were doing so much for your health when you sat around watching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory!
Besides providing you with a good chuckle, there is a whole new sub-genre of television shows that encourage making healthier lifestyle choices, which can greatly reduce your stress levels as well as improve your overall health. One of the leaders of this pack is the Food Network, who is working to change their high calorie reputation (although those foods are certainly still there) in order to promote healthier eating and shows. Leading the charge at the Food Network to encourage us to eat not only for our bodies but our minds is Ellie Krieger who, with her show Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger, is showing millions how to not only cook healthy food, but make it delicious at the same time. She has years of experience and a truly impressive resume, which includes two New York Times best-sellers, a period as a NYU adjunct professor, and contributions to a number of shows and magazines, like her regular columns in Women’s Health – she knows her stuff, to say the least. Thanks to the convenience of the Ellie’s Food Network website and on demand TV, you can tune into Ellie’s show anytime you want, and additionally print out her recipes to have on hand for the particularly stressful times, when you should be eating your healthiest.
Of course, the most famous show advocating a healthy lifestyle right now is NBC’s The Biggest Loser. You may think that the lessons learned on there only serve you if you’re trying to lose weight. While that may be true for some, their advocation of a healthy diet and regular exercise are tools that can dramatically reduce both your short and long term stress levels. In another study by the Mayo Clinic it was found that regular exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, allow you a mental distraction, and help improve your sleep, which is vital to keeping stress levels low. So, the next time you’re watching the show, join in on their exercises!
While these ideas might not be the most mainstream, we live in a nation where television still reigns king. If you’re likely to end up watching television at some point in the day, you might as well get a good laugh, some exercise, or learn something new from it. And to think, your mother said too much television would rot your brain…