There’s nothing wrong with being a couch potato every now and then. Sometimes your body just needs a break, right? But although you might be able to sit on the couch for hours on end, it’s important to make sure your body is still getting plenty of physical activity and exercise throughout the day. Check out some of these exercises to do while watching TV, and enjoy the best of both worlds with a fitness routine from the comfort of your couch.
“Sitting still” is just about the worst thing you can do. It’s the new “going backward.”
― Tony Horton, The Big Picture: 11 Laws That Will Change Your Life
Start With The Body Basics
There are some pretty simple exercises you can count on to help bulk up those arms, legs, ab muscles, and especially to increase your heart rate or get your body moving, in no time. For ideal calorie burn, try some of these the next time your favorite show is on.
You’ll be feeling the burn before the first commercial break if you add some sit ups while you’re watching TV. If you find you don’t have a ton of ab strength, don’t fret. Start small and build up. Try doing two to three sets of 12 to 16 reps and keep building from there. For a little more of a challenge, try advancing to full-body roll ups (where you sit all the way up from a lying down position, keeping your arms straight as you come up).1
Show your arms and upper body some attention with a classic set of push-ups. Again, just do what you can. Try starting with three sets of 10 push ups while you’re watching television. Just like with the sit ups, feel free to start small and work your way up.
Ever an exercise classic, jumping jacks will get your heart pumping in no time. During a commercial break, try to do as many jumping jacks as you can in between the reps of push-ups and sit ups to ensure you’re getting your cardio in.
Planking is perhaps one of the top exercises you can do to improve your core and arm strength, especially your triceps and biceps. Be sure to curl your toes behind you and keep your hands either flat to the ground or steepled directly under your shoulders. Hold it for at least 30 seconds, and use the television to distract you from the burn.2
Want to spice up your regular timed plank? Try a plank twist. Simply lower down into your plank position. Drop to your right elbow and turn your body all the way to the right while swinging your right arm into the air. Hold for 45 seconds, then switch to the other side. Pause between each set, and repeat at least three times.3
Another classic, simple exercise, squats are a great lower body workout for your thighs and glutes, which might otherwise not move if you stay glued to the couch. Be sure to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart before you begin. Remember, squats are all about the slow burn. Do at least 15 to 20 of these on the next commercial break after you’ve done your jumping jacks.
Time To Level Up: More Cardio, Squats, Lunges, And More
Once you’ve “mastered” this first set, or if you just need to change things up a bit during your TV fitness time, check out some of these exercises for your legs and glutes that will have you toned up before next week’s new episode.
Lunges are great if you’re looking to get a little more movement in while your favorite show is on. Do a few quick lunges (also commonly known as “lateral lunges”) around your living room during each commercial break to really feel it in your thighs and leg muscles.
These are perfect if you’re tired of doing bodyweight squats. Simply grab a chair (or, if you have an armchair handy, try using that) and perform your squats by “sitting” in the chair. You really want to achieve more of a “hover” than actually sitting down.
For this exercise, you’ll also need a small stool or a sturdy chair. Simply step onto the stool with your left foot and lift your right knee up to your chest, then alternate to complete the set. Do at least 10-15 sets of these. If you’re looking for a little more challenge, grab a pair of dumbbells to get an extra arm workout or strength training in.4
Kickbacks are another great glute workout that doesn’t require too much movement. Simply start on your hands and knees in front of the TV with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your knee bent, lift your left leg back and up so your foot is a little higher than your head. Squeeze the glute muscle for a beat before returning to your original position. Do this 10-12 times, and then alternate to the right foot and right knee.5
Plank Leg Lifts
Here’s another plank alternative if you feel like switching things up. As you plank, slowly lift your right leg up into the air and return it to your plank position. Do this at least 10 to 15 times before alternating legs. Don’t forget to squeeze your glutes as you lift your foot in order to reap the benefits of this exercise, and keep your shoulders in line with your hips.
Use That Gym Or Other Exercise Equipment
Perhaps you have a treadmill, exercise bike, weight room, or other smaller exercise equipment like a jump rope or hand weights lying around the house. If you’re looking for more of an intense workout while also getting your TV time in, grab—or go to—your favorite piece of equipment, turn to your favorite channel, and get started.
Jumping rope is considered a full-body cardio workout, burning more than ten calories per minute.6If you can jump rope for at least ten to 20 minutes, that’s over 100 calories burned over your favorite comedy show. If you can’t jump rope for the entire episode, again, don’t fret. Do as much as you can and head to the treadmill, grab some hand weights, or even use a foam roller for a cool-down session as the episode winds down.
If you’ve got an hour-long drama to catch up on, try taking your favorite exercises from this list and creating your own exercise or fitness routine. Who says you can’t have it all?
Get Exercise Without Leaving Home
This list of exercises doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what your body can accomplish while watching your favorite show. Want to do a yoga or Pilates session while you watch TV? No problem. If you consider yourself an expert multitasker, stream a yoga video on your phone while you watch from the comfort of your yoga mat.
Today’s world can be extremely hectic. With a seemingly endless parade of TV shows to choose from, it can be a challenge to keep up with whatever new “hot” show others are watching and make time to exercise throughout the week. Throw in a full-time job and some kids, and it can seem almost impossible to get anything done. So, why not try to kill two birds with one stone?
Exercising while you’re watching television is also a great distraction technique. Before you know it, you’ve done countless numbers of push-ups and sit ups, burning calories before the first commercial break without feeling a thing.
Most importantly, exercising while watching TV is important because your body needs to move. Sitting on the couch all day is detrimental to your health and body in the long run. If you use commercial breaks to exercise, for example, you might be less likely to head to the kitchen for snacks – which can contribute to weight gain.7
So, next time you find yourself with a new show to binge or you’re catching up on the latest episodes of your favorite show, get moving. Your body will thank you later.