According to a recent study published in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, sedentary activity increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. While you may not be able to escape your desk job or resist your favorite TV shows, you can make the most of your downtime by performing these five simple exercises in front of the TV.
1. Trade the couch for an exercise ball.
An easy way to feel less guilty about indulging in your favorite shows is to get off the couch—literally—and instead, sit on an exercise or stability ball. By sitting on an orb, you force your core to stabilize itself, encouraging better posture and tightness in the abs. You’ll hardly notice the difference while you catch up on Glee or other primetime shows, but almost immediately, you’ll stand taller and feel slimmer around the midsection. This daily exercise is better than cramming in a few crunches because it works your entire core! If you’re feeling extra motivated, perform a few spinal twists or roll on the ball to stretch out your back, which will help to reverse some of the side effects of sitting at a desk all day.
2. Bend and straighten your legs at the knee.
While seated on the couch or chair, strengthen your Vastus Medialis Oblique muscle group—the super-important muscles that help hold your knees in place—by straightening each knee, one at a time, until your leg forms a horizontal line from the seat of the chair outward. Hold for a few seconds and lower your foot to the floor. Repeat for three sets of 15 raises on each leg. You’ll begin to see definition in your quadriceps and you’ll reduce your risk of knee injury without missing a minute of on-screen action!
3. Perform tricep dips from your couch.
Want sculpted, Michelle Obama-like arms? Believe it or not your couch can help you! Facing away from your couch or chair, place your hands on the edge of your couch with your thighs parallel to the floor. Lower your bottom so it hovers just above the ground until your arms make a 90-degree angle. You should feel the backs of your arms (where most women carry a little extra flab) contract. Do three sets of 15 dips and you’ll definitely feel the burn. Plus it’ll make the commercial breaks fly by.
4. Squeeze and release.
An easy way to work muscles without even getting up is performing isometric contractions. All it requires is squeezing a muscle—your gluteus, for instance—holding for a few seconds and then releasing. You can even tone your triceps by rotating your arm from wrist to shoulder inward and squeezing the muscles in the back of the arm.
5. Use the commercials for interval training.
If the only thing you’re exercising is your channel-changing thumb during commercial breaks, you’re missing an opportunity to squeeze in a bit of cardio. Get up off the couch and do jumping jacks, run in place, skip rope, or perform lunges while you wait for the show to come back on. If you get your heart rate up for several sets of three-minute increments, you’ll be on your way to a slimmer, healthier you.
A Review by Editor:
I am a busy mother that manages to fit exercise into my schedule. The only moment I get to relax is at night after I’ve put my kiddo to sleep. And even then, I get 1 hour of TV, max. So although these tips are good, they don’t work for me.