September 30, 2013

4 Exercises You Can Do While Watching TV

If exercising had an opposite, it would probably be the act of watching television. Exercising and watching TV go together like morbidly obese couch potatoes and bikini season, right?

Not necessarily. Not only are there some exercises that can be done while staring into the boob tube, but sometimes, staring at the TV can actually help you do the exercise correctly.
Use television to your benefit instead of letting it sink your workout routine.

Fixed-Point Exercises
Some exercises - specifically those that require you to maintain an erect spine throughout the motion - require fixing your eyes on a single, distant point to maintain focus and correct form. Simply make the television your focal point, and not only will you complete the motion correctly, but you'll catch up on Rizzoli and Isles, or whatever it is you watch.

Hindu Squats
A core staple of martial artists that can be traced back to ancient India, Hindu squats are a full-body exercise that combines strength training and cardio. Oh, and you can literally do them anywhere.

Stand straight and - unlike with barbell squats, which put the pressure on your heels - put your weight on the balls of your feet. Keeping your spine and neck aligned and straight, lower your butt down to your heels by bending your knees. Lean forward to provide a counterweight to your bootie, and rhythmically swing your arms back upon descending and up to your chest when returning to the upright position.

Here's an example by international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion and kettlebell fitness guru Steve Maxwell.

Jumping Jacks
One of the most basic and earliest-learned exercises in the world, many active adults stop doing jumping jacks the moment they're not forced to any longer by a middle school gym teacher, and that's a shame.
Jumping jacks are among the best exercises for your entire cardiovascular system. They expand your lungs, increase your heart rate, jog your metabolism, and boost your endurance. They're also great for your calves, overall flexibility, and coordination. They can function as an excellent warmup exercise, post-workout cardio burnout exercise, or as a training regimen in and of themselves. High-level martial artists do them, and so do Marines.

If you're overweight, even dramatically, drink only or mostly water; eat small, frequent portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein like grilled chicken, tuna fish and cottage cheese; and do as many jumping jacks as you're comfortable with every morning, and in six weeks you will look and feel dramatically different. Oh, and you can leave the television on.

The Commercial Challenge
A one-hour television show is actually only about 43 minutes long without the commercials. One strategy is to watch TV and put yourself to work during each of the average two-minute long commercial breaks.

Trainers have long understood the benefits of interval training - intense exercise followed by periods of rest - and the commercial challenge fits that mold. Watch your show, and the second it breaks for commercial, get going. Jog in place, do some pushups, jumping jacks, crunches, burpees, planks, a wrestler's bridge - whatever. The point is to try to push yourself to do at least something other than resting until your show comes back on.

If you did this for three half-hour shows throughout the day, that would be 25 solid minutes of mixed interval training. You'd be good to go.

Pick exercises that require you to focus on a single point in space.

So you want to get back into shape. Great! TV doesn't have to be your nemesis. If you want to get strong, you have to be smart and use every tool in your arsenal, including the bane of couch potatoes everywhere. Make your television work for you.

(And if you decide to invest in some exercise equipment that you can use while watching television, be sure to review their reputation online first to ensure you're getting a high-quality device.)

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.

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