6 Exercises to Do While Watching TV

Watching TV is a favorite pastime for many and is a relaxing way to wind down after a long day. However, if you have a sedentary job or want to increase your daily movement, there are exercises you can do while watching TV.

In addition to increasing your daily activity, there are other benefits you'll enjoy if you exercise while watching TV. You can work on different components of your fitness, such as increasing strength.

Research shows that even short, 3-minute breaks that get you moving every 30 minutes can help combat the adverse effects of sitting. Benefits include stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels. Below are some creative ideas you can try to boost your activity levels during your TV time.

How to Exercise With The TV

Woman stretching in front of her tv
George Doyle/Getty Images

When you exercise while you watch TV, you don't have to move the entire time to increase your activity. The workout is set up so that you do vigorous movements during commercial breaks and rest while your show is on.

According to Nielsen data, most television shows contain 11 minutes and 20 seconds of ad time during each television hour.

If you watch TV for three hours in the evening and do a mini workout during each commercial break, your exercise time will total over 45 minutes.

A 150-pound exerciser burns approximately 180 calories doing bodyweight exercises in that time. You can also improve strength, build muscle and increase flexibility.

Of course, the total number of calories you burn during exercise will vary based on factors, including your gender and workout intensity. You can use a calculator to get an estimate of your number.

Before you begin your exercise session, ensure you are healthy enough for a challenging workout by getting clearance from your doctor. You'll also need to clear an area large enough to extend your arms fully and step forward and back without hitting anything.

If you have a pair of weights, you can implement them. The first time you do the TV workout, do it without weights. Then if you feel like you need an extra challenge, add weights to the upper and lower body exercises.

Warm Up

Parents and kids walking upstairs at home
Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images

It's wise to begin your workout with a warm-up. But your warm-up doesn't have to be intense. If you've been active for most of the day, your body may already be prepared to move.

Make sure your muscles are ready by taking up to three minutes at the beginning of your show to do gentle full-body movements. You can march in place, jog up and down stairs, or even do housecleaning chores. Try some active stretches and mobility work to get your muscles and joints primed.

Lower Body Exercises

lunge exercise
Kristen Johansen/Getty Images

During the first commercial break, you'll do several lunge variations. This exercise will tighten and tone your thighs, glutes, calves, and core.

A lunge exercise will also raise your heart rate to burn more fat and calories. Start by doing the exercise without weights, then add them if you feel that you need a more significant challenge.

During the first commercial, step forward into a lunge (pictured), then step back and switch legs. Do this for the entire duration of the first commercial. It will probably last 30 - 60 seconds.

Step to the side instead of the front during the second commercial. You'll notice the muscles of your inner and outer thigh working harder—step to the back instead of the side when a new commercial comes on. If there are more than three commercials during the break, start with the front lunge series and work through each set again.

During each set of lunge repetitions, ensure that your shoulders stay stacked on top of your hips, so it never feels like you are leaning towards the moving leg. And if you have cranky knees or joint pain, try to keep the front knee over your toes rather than in front of them.

Upper Body Exercises

Man doing push ups in living room
Domino / Getty Images

You'll do push-up variations during commercial breaks to work your upper body. If push-ups are too hard, plenty of variations will help you to get stronger so that you can eventually do a full push-up with perfect form.

If you've never done an upper body workout, start by doing your push-ups against a wall. Stand a little more than arm's length away from a sturdy wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height.

Then bend your arms to bring your chest close to the wall. This is a basic push up movement done in a standing position. End the exercise by pushing your body away from the wall. Try to do at least 10 repetitions.

Once you've mastered the wall push-up, you should graduate to an incline push-up.

Use your couch or a sturdy table as your base, then push your body weight up and down from the base. Incline push-ups will strengthen the shoulders and start to engage the abdominal muscles.

Try a full push-up on the floor when you can do at least ten incline push-ups with good form (pictured above). For this upper body workout, do at least ten repetitions of your push-up variation during each commercial.

Strengthen Your Core

Exercise at Home
BreatheFitness / Getty Images

You can work on your core strength while you watch TV, too. This will be the most straightforward part of your television workout but not the easiest. You can do a basic plank exercise and a few variations to get functional, strong abs.

You can do the basic plank exercise with your weight supported on your hands (pictured) or do a plank with your weight on your elbows. Hold the position without letting your hips sag to the floor. Take a break when your form begins to change.

Because most commercials last 30-60 seconds, the goal of your ab workout will be to hold a plank position for the duration of the commercial.

In the beginning, you may only be able to hold a plank for 15 seconds. That's okay. With some practice and consistency, you'll soon be able to hold the plank for the entire commercial break—three minutes or more. If you need an extra challenge, try a few plank variations to work different parts of your midsection.

Move During Breaks

do a stair workout at home
Blend Images/Getty Images

Depending on the length of your favorite TV show, you may have run out of commercial breaks. But you've already worked your upper body, lower body, and core.

You've also raised your heart rate, boosting your cardiovascular fitness. If you have another commercial break during your show, you can do some more quick cardio. Run the stairs or march in place to stay active. You can even jump rope if you have the space.

Increasing your daily movement will boost your fitness and help you balance your weight more easily.

Repeat this workout sequence two more times if you're up for it. Most of us watch 2-3 hours of television per night, so it should be simple to complete the workout twice. Or, consider turning in to get some recovery sleep.

A Word From Verywell

As with any exercise program, you'll see results when you do the workout consistently for 2-3 weeks. If you exercise on a regular basis and eat a healthy diet, your arms will get stronger, your tummy will get tighter and your legs will get leaner with this plan. You'll also get closer to reaching your weight loss goals.

If you want variation, try a different home workout on other nights during the week. There are simple routines that you can do in your living room and great online workouts that are inexpensive or free.

9 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Smith JAB, Savikj M, Sethi P, et al. Three weeks of interrupting sitting lowers fasting glucose and glycemic variability, but not glucose tolerance, in free-living women and men with obesityAm J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2021;321(2):E203-E216. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00599.2020

  2. Poggi J. TV needs fewer commercials, but the math is going to be hard. Ad Age. 2018.


  3. Hosford B. The common mistakes people make when warming up. American Council on Fitness. 2015.


  4. Side lunge. American Council on Exercise.


  5. Wall push-up exercise. National Institute on Aging. US Department of Health and Human Services.


  6. Front plank. American Council on Exercise.


  7. McColl P. Benefits of jumping rope. American Council on Exercise. 2017.


  8. National Institute of Health, National Library of Medicine. The role of non-exercise activity thermogenesis in human obesity. PMID:25905303

  9. Braverman J. When will you see results if you exercise every day?. Livestrong. 2019.


By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.