Super Bowl Spectators: Don't Sit, Get Fit!

Exercising while watching TV can improve health

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

The Super Bowl is coming. That's at least a few hours of sitting — save for when you stand to cheer on your team — but you don't have to sit. Why not work out while you watch?

Americans love TV. Recent data from the Nielsen Organization shows that, on average, Americans watch 141 hours of TV each month. That's more than four hours each day — or around the length of one Super Bowl.

What if you spent four hours exercising every day?

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that, "For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity." This means the type of exercises that elevate your heart rate and breathing rate. Also, adults should include strength training twice a week.

That might sound daunting, but the good news is that you don't have to give up TV to get fit. There are many ways to turn TV time into workout time.

"Exercising while watching TV is a great way to get the heart rate up without having to carve out time during the rest of your busy day. It's become such a popular concept that fitness centers often have access to viewing television for those using the treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals," said Rusty Gregory, a personal trainer and fitness coach.

"Unfortunately, most people don't think about exercising while sitting on the couch, and the opportunity is lost. Personally, I love to make a game out of it. Every time someone on television says a particular word, I'll perform a certain number of push-ups. It becomes more fun when several people are doing it and a reward awaits the person who hangs in there the longest," said Gregory, who is also the author of "Self-Care Reform: How to Discover Your Own Path to Good Health" and "Living Wheat-Free For Dummies."

Go Back in Time

Return to a time when remote controls and cellphones did not exist. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends that you "Throw the remote away and get up to change the channels."

You probably shouldn't throw it away, but maybe keep it on top of the TV during the Super Bowl. You can also place your cellphone somewhere away from you. If it rings, get up to answer it.

It may seem small, but almost any added physical activity is better than none.

Ditch the Couch

ACE also recommends not sitting on the couch. Instead, try sitting on an exercise stability ball.

According to ACE, "The stability ball can be adapted for many uses, including developing core strength, improving posture and facilitating stretching, among others."

If you don't have a stability ball, try standing. Stand during the commercials and sit during the show. Once you get good, try to stand during the game and sit during the commercials.

Take the 'Break' out of Commercial Break

If you really need to focus on the game, commercial breaks are great opportunities to do a few quick exercises. Short blocks of time are easy to handle for a beginner. Use these little snippets to get up and move.

Challenge yourself to achieve a goal during the short time, such as hopping 20 times on each foot or doing jumping jacks.

As you get better, make the goal tougher.

Make the Show Dictate Your Workout

Choose moments that could occur in the Super Bowl and assign various exercises to them. For instance, every time a team kicks a field goal, do 10 pushups.

Remember, this doesn't only apply to sports. Get creative. Maybe you could jog in place every time Friends has a coffee shop scene or do five crunches every time a vampire shows his fangs on True Blood.

Bring in the Machines

ACE also recommends using machines to do some in-place aerobic exercise. If you have an exercise bike, elliptical or treadmill, bring it into the living room. The length of a typical show is 30 or 60 minutes — perfect for a block of cardio. During the Super Bowl, that's a few commercial breaks.

Exercise Ideas

Remember that you should always ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program. After you've spoken to your doctor, make sure you've got enough exercise ideas to keep your workout fresh and interesting every time your show comes on.

You can do a lot of resistance exercises on the floor in front of your TV. Planks, supermans, squats, crunches and even stretches are all great ideas while watching TV.

You could also go in for a set of resistance bands. Resistance bands are a cheap and helpful tool to work many body parts without too much movement.

Yoga poses are not only good exercise, they may also help you regain your zen when your Super Bowl team is losing or the ref makes a bad call. Yoga can improve balance and strength. If you are new to yoga, check out some Web videos or speak to a yoga teacher for guidance on how to get started.

Review Date: 
January 23, 2015