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The average American watched an eye-aching 143 hours and 37 minutes of television in the second quarter of 2010, according to the most recent Nielsen survey. Simply put: That's too much TV (and I say this as a recovering Wire addict). Here are some other things you could—and should—be doing with your time.
An hour of jogging each day at just 5 miles an hour will burn 584 calories. And 3,500 calories is how many you'll need to burn to lose a pound of fat. In other words, if people ran as much as they watched TV, and ate healthy food, they could theoretically lose 24 pounds in a month.
Build a House
According to a North Carolina Habitat for Humanity organization (PDF), it typically takes 12 people 16 working days to build a home for a needy family. Get 11 of your friends to join you, and that's a brand new house in 128 hours.
Get Scuba Certified
It only takes three or four days to get your scuba certification—a maximum of about 40 hours. Do that in two weekends and you'll still have more than 100 hours for TV.
Become a Yoga Instructor
The Equinox gym chain has a 200-hour yoga teacher certification course. If you devoted less than six weeks of TV time to the training, you could have a healthy side gig and some extra cash for organic dinners out.
Rosetta Stone language software claims it takes 40 to 50 hours to complete the content of each level of their five-level programs. In 143 hours, you could nearly complete level 3, at which point you'd have the skills to, according to Rosetta Stone, "enjoy social interactions such as travel and shopping and ... share your ideas and opinions."
Get Smarter Than Your Friends
It takes 77 hours and 22 minutes to read the Bible at the pace of a book on tape. Instead of watch TV, you could read the Bible, then read the Koran—which is considerably shorter than the Christian book—and, you know, actually be well versed in heated discussions about Islam and the West.
Idealist.org is currently listing more than 12,000 volunteer opportunities, at least one of which is probably near your home, and all of which would love 143 hours of your time.