A 2011 Nielsen Co. study found that Americans are watching more TV than ever before -- an astonishing 158 hours a month on their TV sets, plus close to an additional nine hours on computers, tablets and smartphones. That came to 22 minutes more per month than in 2010. It's not just that there are more devices, but thanks to cable channels creating their own original shows, there's more content than ever to watch as well. Add online libraries of programs, and digital video recorders that allow us to time-shift programs, and we can pretty much watch TV whenever and wherever we want.
All that TV watching could kill you. We're not joking. A 2010 study published online by the American Heart Association, in which researchers followed 8,800 adults, revealed that people who watched four hours or more each day were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from other causes, compared to those who watched less than two hours. And each additional hour spent in front of the TV increased a person's overall risk of death by 11 percent [source: Klein]. This was mainly due to all that sitting. Too much muscle inactivity disrupts your metabolism.
Think of it this way: If you cut back to two hours of viewing a day, that's still enough to enjoy 10 worthwhile programs each week, plus a sports event or two on the weekend. This year, admit that you've seen every rerun of "Law & Order" and "Jersey Shore," and start cutting back on your screen time in favor of healthier pursuits, such as exercising, playing games and talking to your family. And don't flip the TV on when there's nothing you really want to watch.