Click over to YouTube and you’ll find no shortage of cute animals, pop stars and silly stunts. These were among the most popular videos on a day earlier this month: a dog in a Santa costume riding a robotic vacuum cleaner; clips of fans opening gift packages from Taylor Swift; and a guy who blasts a giant frozen Gummy Bear with a shotgun.
But if you dismiss YouTube as nothing but music, mutts and mayhem, you’re just not looking in the right places. The millions of videos stored on YouTube include many that can contribute to your personal well being by teaching new skills and delivering tips for managing your lifestyle.
To find those videos, look for channels that are created and curated by individuals or commercial sponsors. They function like on-demand TV channels with a lineup of programs on various topics.
Here are a few to get you started:
Yoga with Adriene offers yoga training and information for "all levels, shapes and sizes." The Austin, Texas teacher and actor has divided more than 100 videos into groups for complete beginners, those hoping to lose weight, and travelers. Adriene's stated goals are to help you burn fat, work your core, and strengthen and lengthen your body. The Everyday Health channel gathers tips from TV chefs and trainers. One clip from the "Recipe Rehab" show illustrates how to cook naturally sweet desserts -- without loads of sugar -- and how to prepare healthier versions of tacos and pot pies, among other favorite comfort foods. You'll get metabolism-boosting advice from trainer Jillian Michaels, who normally can be found motivating dieters on NBC's "The Biggest Loser." And you'll find full episodes of Claire Thomas' "Food for Thought" along with recipe walkthroughs for such yummy dishes as roasted beet salad with goat cheese.
Jacy Elsesser will show you how to tune up a snow blower and maintain a water heater on his FIX IT Home Improvement Channel. Elsesser is a real estate investor and former hardware store owner who delivers product reviews and home and garden troubleshooting tips in a friendly and easy-going style. His how-to videos cover topics such as problem toilets and cracked drywall. Chris Hammond, a Tennessee investment adviser, schools Boomers on IRAs, 401Ks and asset allocation on his YouTube channel, Retirement Planning Made Easy. Recent segments address escalating health insurance premiums and describe a few ways to help protect yourself against rising health care costs. You can watch Oprah Winfrey protege Dr. Mehmet Oz daily on his own FOX TV show, but you can also visit DoctorOz, his YouTube channel, for quick hits and show segments. Videos are grouped under categories such as "Weight-Loss Tips and Tricks," "Work Out With Dr. Oz" and "Anti-Aging Secrets". Get inspiration on how to furnish and accessorize your home by watching videos on the Interior Design Ideas channel. The videos are photo slideshows of rooms set to music. As you watch interior scenery go by, you’ll get ideas colors and furniture layouts. There are plenty of living rooms but also collections for offices, media rooms and children's bedrooms. FitnessBlender offers free workout videos for people who want to get fit at home, avoiding both the gym and gym equipment. The low-impact exercises are demonstrated by male and female trainers. While a dumbbell is called for in a few of the routines, the trainers say you can improvise by using items found around the house. The "Free 5-Day Workout Challenge for Busy People" video is a good place to start.
I started reporting on gadgets and gear when Atari ruled electronic games and computers used floppy disks. My weekly column ran in the The Louisville Courier-Journal and online at USAToday.com and ABC News.com. I regularly attend CES, the CEDIA home theater convention and other tech events. You can follow my Twitter posts @ricmanning and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org