I don’t know about you, but for me, nothing is quite as soothing as escaping into a funny TV show. If I’m not careful, though, that episode of Brooklyn 99 I planned to watch before bed can turn into an hours-long, Hulu-fueled binge! Unfortunately, all that sitting increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and more.1 (Yowza.)
To make matters worse, I tend to snack while I watch TV (especially at night), which not only packs on the pounds, but makes me feel lousy the next morning.
However, given that life has been stressful lately (my grandpa is in critical condition and my uncle just passed away 🙁 ), I refuse to give up the shows that make me laugh, like Royal Pains, Modern Family, and, of course, Brooklyn 99.
So, what’s a TV-needy gal to do? Just like with dessert, I look for healthy ways to indulge. So I rounded up 12 fun and relaxing ways you can actually make watching TV good for you…
1. Make your favorite show into a cardio game
Think of your favorite show. Now, what does the lead character frequently say or do? Once you’ve got that in your head, you’re ready to play. Each time your character says/does that quirky thing, do a set of cardio exercises, like 30 jumping jacks. You can play solo, or have a friend pick another character and see who ends up exercising more. While some of us may have played a drinking version of this game in college (not moi?), making your favorite show into an interactive workout is a great way to watch TV and get healthy, too.
Example: Downton Abbey: Jump rope for 1 minute every time Maggie Smith’s character, the Dowager Countess, skewers someone with a witty one-liner. You’ll be marathon-ready by the season’s end! And for you Bachelor-lovers out there, check out this hilarious Bachelor Workout Challenge from SheKnows.com.
2. Catch up on ironing
Iron in front of the TV and not only will your family look extra snazzy, but you’ll score health-boosting time on your feet while catching up on your Netflix queue.
3. Do strength training circuits during commercial breaks
You can get a full-body workout during your favorite show; just do a circuit during each commercial break. (Or when there would normally be a commercial break, if you’re watching on Netflix.) My favorite commercial combo: 10 squats, 30 crunches, 10 sofa tricep dips, and a 30-second wall sit. Or you can try this heart-pumping combo from Greatist.com.
4. Give yourself a massage
Sitting at a desk, running around after kids, slouching on the couch—all can cause aches and pains. So while you’re giving your mind a break during your favorite TV show, how about giving your body a break too? Here are some easy self-massage moves from Today.com to get you started.
5. Fold laundry
Like ironing, folding laundry keeps you moving—and productive—while you get lost in your favorite show.
6. Get pedaling
Pedal your legs into awesome shape right from the sofa with an inexpensive “mini-bike.” Even better: Halfway through the show, pop the pedal-er on the coffee table and give your arms a workout, too. Happily, mini-bikes are majorly affordable: You can get the best-selling mini-bike on Amazon for only $31.
7. Do a lymphatic breast massage
The lymphatic system is a series of vessels and nodes that helps move excess fluid and waste into the blood where it can then removed from the body. However, unlike blood, lymph isn’t pumped by the heart. Instead, it must be transported through the lymph vessels indirectly by muscle contraction. However, lymph can also be moved along by gentle massage.
While little data is available on lymphatic breast massage, practitioners like Dr. Christiane Northrup suggest that it may boost breast health.2 Personally, I’ve noticed that when I do it regularly, I have a bit less breast pain during my monthly cycle.
Once you’ve learned the techniques, you can easily do lymphatic breast massage during a TV show. (Although you might want to wait until you’re watching solo.) 😉 Visit The Breast Health Project for easy step-by-step instructions and a video.
Stretching isn’t just relaxing; it can reduce your risk of injury during exercise and increase blood flow to your muscles. So instead of developing yet another kink from slouching on the couch, use your TV time to stretch. Walk or jog in place for 5-10 minutes first to warm up your muscles, then roll out a yoga mat and ease through your favorites. Your body will thank you!3
9. Watch TV only on your elliptical (or treadmill. or whatever.)
You know that elliptical machine collecting dust in your basement? Park it in front of your TV and only allow yourself to watch your favorite show while using it. You’ll be fit in no time.
10. Rock out with a Spooner board
Last year, I bought my 5-year-old nephew a Spooner board for Christmas. I ended up having more fun with it than he did—so much so, in fact, that I got one for myself! Of course, you can sit on the Spooner board and spin around for fun, kid-style. However, while you’re watching TV, it’s surprisingly relaxing to stand on it and rock back and forth—like a rocking chair that also happens to improve strength and balance. You can get a grown-up size Spooner board on Amazon in the color of your choice. (Mine’s purple.)
11. Sit on an exercise ball instead of your couch
Just like laughing along with your favorite comedy, balancing on an exercise ball strengthens core muscles. So why not do both at once? Or, to take your TV watching to the next level, do this 15-minute exercise ball workout from Real Simple during the first half of your favorite show.
12. Jump on a rebounder
If you have high ceilings, this one’s for you. Re-live the trampoline fun of childhood by bouncing on a rebounder (a.k.a. mini-trampoline) while you catch up on your DVR queue. Not only will you get a bit of a workout, but the up-and-down motion of the rebounder will get your lymph flowing and make you feel like a new woman. (Or man, for the gents out there.)Want to watch TV and be healthy at the same time? Here are 12 ways to do it! Click To Tweet
- Which of these do you want to try?
- What’s your favorite healthy TV-time activity?
- Corliss J. Too much sitting linked to heart disease, diabetes, premature death. Harvard Health Blog. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618. January 22, 2015. Accessed April 25, 2016.
- Northrup C. Relief for common breast symptoms. http://www.drnorthrup.com/relief-for-common-breast-symptoms/. Accessed April 25, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic Patient Care & Health Info. Stretching: Focus on flexibility. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931. March 4, 2014. Accessed April 25, 2016.