The average American spends five hours per day watching television, yet many people claim they cannot find time for the physical exercise they need to stay in shape.
There is a solution that does not require missing any favorite shows. TV viewers can perform a number of movements that improve fitness without leaving their living rooms.
Research has proven that sitting in front of the “boob tube” for hours at a time is bad for the joints and muscles. This sedentary behavior (especially when combined with snacking) often results in weight gain, which can cause Type 2 diabetes and other ailments.
Here are some ideas for “couch potatoes” who know they need to get more exercise.
Experts recommend that people not accustomed to exercising should start slowly before graduating to more strenuous activities. Simple stretches, some of which can be done in a comfortable chair, tone muscles and improve range of motion.
Extending the arms above the head, reaching as high as possible, for at least 30 seconds is good for the back and shoulders. Other parts of the body benefit from stretching the legs outward, and holding them in the air for 30 seconds, while sitting. Neck stretches, finger and toe flexes, and other movements also are helpful. The key is to put the body in motion.
For those willing to get out of their recliners, there are a number of additional options. Some of the most popular choices are walking in place, doing jumping jacks and performing yoga.
Depending upon a person’s physical abilities and limitations, other possibilities are crunches; squat jumps (rising from a crouch to a standing position); burpees (jumping from a squat to a flat position parallel to the floor, then jumping back and standing); “mountain climbing” (moving the knees forward and back while in a push-up position); bear crawls (going from a squat to a push-up, then walking the hands back and standing); and kickboxing (punching and kicking).
While no purchase is necessary to get good exercise, some people opt for various types of home exercise equipment. Trainers advise placing devices in front of the TV, rather than in another room where they may remain unused for days at a time.
Workouts can feature treadmills, stationary bicycles, elliptical trainers, rowing machines, weight machines or free weights. Some people prefer sitting on exercise balls or stretching with resistance bands.
A method involving targeted stretches combined with focused breathing, pilates requires no equipment other than perhaps an exercise mat. This sort of workout bolsters muscles in the abdomen and back, which improves strength and balance.
A common pilates maneuver begins by lying on the back with the knees flexed upward, and the feet and hands flat on the floor. Raising the body and holding it in the air strengthens stomach muscles. The hip roll, a technique that stretches the spine, entails slowly rotating the pelvis one direction at a time from left to right. It is important to inhale while holding each position.
Those ready to move on to more demanding workouts may want to consider cardio exercises. These moves get their name from their propensity to quicken the heart, a good indicator of a routine’s effectiveness. Any activity that elevates the heart rate for at least 20 minutes is considered a cardio workout, which burns fat and promotes weight loss faster than less strenuous exercises.
Running in place, or racing up and down stairs, is a great way to “get some cardio.” TV watchers can do this during commercials, or while pausing a program. Health authorities warn that for some people, more than 30 minutes of cardio per day may be harmful. They suggest working with a doctor or trainer to determine an individual’s heart-rate goal.