I don’t think I’m the only one out there who is regularly conflicted by a desire to be fit and active and a desire to be a downright couch potato. In my opinion, the ideal way to appease both of these opposing sides is by focusing on simple exercises you can do while watching TV. Many times we might feel the hardest part about working out is actually just getting to the gym. For me, once I’m there I’m completely content and good to go. It’s the getting changed, talking myself into leaving, dodging the TV, and getting myself to walk through the front door of the gym that’s the major challenge.
For those days that I really just can’t get myself there — either because I don’t have the time or because I just plainly don’t want to — or nights when I’m dying to see a new episode of my favorite TV show, having the option of staying home and still getting a workout in is really ideal. What’s even better is that many of the exercises we can do at home are really simple. In a world where everything has become so unnecessarily complicated, we can rest easy knowing some of our favorite traditional exercise moves remain the same. Extra bonus: Many of them can be done effectively during commercial breaks so you won’t even have to be distracted while your favorite show is on. Total win-win! Here are 10 simple exercise moves you can do while watching TV.
Lunges are one of my oldest workout friends. The move has been around for ages and there’s a good reason why — they actually work! Like squats (which will get to, as well), they’re amazing for our legs and butts. According to Shape, to do a correct lunge keep your upper body straight, chin up, and core engaged. Step forward with one leg, and bend your body down until the leg is front of you is curled at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your weight in your heels, push back up to the starting position. Repeat 20 times and then switch legs.
2. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks are another oldie but good (as long as you don’t have cranky downstairs neighbors!). Try doing as many as you can during each commercial break and you’ll be amping up your heart rate while calories some serious calories. According to POPSUGAR, one minute of jumping jacks burns eight calories.
Remember those traditional sit-ups you used to do back in the day? They’re still just as useful now, and can be done easily on a yoga mat right in front of your TV. Cosmopolitan recommends doing 25 reps twice during your favorite show’s commercial breaks, and to remember to reach your head up toward the ceiling.
4. Chair Dips
Drag a sturdy chair in front of the TV and, just like that, you’re ready for a arm-toning workout. According to Parenting, for chair dips begin by sitting on the edge of the chair with hands secured next to your hips. Slide your butt off the edge and begin to bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Slowly push back up and repeat 10 to 12 times.
I love planks because, while they look simple, a lot of work is being done for your body when you’re doing them. To do an effective plank, push your body up into an upward pushup position, with your toes curled under behind you and your hands flat and directly under your shoulders (or — according to Shape — rest your weight on your forearms rather than your hands if you’d prefer). Hold it for 30 seconds, according to Shape, and then release your body back to the ground.
6. Plank Twists
While you’re down on the ground, go for another version of the plank — the plank twist. For this exercise, according to LIVESTRONG, start with your body in the upward pushup position, as you did with the traditional plank. Drop to your elbows (one at a time, of course), and turn your body all the way to the right, swinging your right arm into the air, and leaving the left arm bent behind you. Hold for 45 seconds and then switch the left side and do the same. Pause between each set, repeating three times on each side.
7. Body-Weight Squats
Every time I think of squats lately I immediately envision those incredibly-fit Crossfit women doing squat with massive weights attached to a barbell. It seems intimidating to me, to say the least. However, squats are also really effective if we do them with simply our body weight. According to Oprah, stand straight with your feet spread slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and put your arms out straight in front of you, parallel to the floor. Sink down and push your hips back while bending your knees. Pause at the bottom and then bring yourself steadily back up. Then, do 15 to 20 additional reps.
8. Hip Raises
Hip raises are another very simply exercise that comes with great results, particularly for your core. Bring that yoga mat back out and lie down flat on your back with your arms extended straight out to side beside you. Bring your knees up, placing your feet flat on the ground. According to Oprah, keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes while you raise your hips to form a straight line between your shoulders and your knees. Pause for five seconds and then lower you hips back down. Repeat 10 times.
If you have a sturdy platform nearby — something that will hold your body weight — drag that over. Steps-ups just require that sturdy surface and your body weight. According to Parenting, begin by placing your right foot on the platform (or stair), then step up with your left leg. Keep your right foot where it is, and put your left back down about 12 inches behind you. Bring the left foot back up again, and repeat 12 times. Then, try the same with your right foot, bringing it up and down. Parenting recommended keeping your chest lifted throughout for full effect. If this feels too simple, the site recommends holding weights in your hands while doing the exercise.
10. Floor Swan Dive
For anyone who is familiar with yoga, you’ve likely done this move before and are aware that it can be really great for strengthening your back muscles and improving your posture, according to Health. To do the swan dive, begin by laying face down on your yoga mat with arms stretched out over your head in front of your and toes pointed behind you, according to Health. At the same time, lift your arms and legs about 6 inches off the ground and hold for a moment and then circle your arms out around you and back towards your toes with your palms facing your body. Hold for a moment again before bringing your arms back to the starting position. Then, release your body back to the floor. Health recommended repeating six to eight times.
Next time you’re beating yourself up over prioritizing The Bachelor over the gym, remember that you can have it all by doing some of these simple moves from the comfort of your own living room. For those of us who feel we’re incredibly crunched for time, what better way to kill two birds with one stone than by getting our entertainment and exercise quotas in for the day all in one shot.