The Best Exercises to Do While Watching TV

If you don't have time to go to the gym—or if you just hate going to the gym—don't worry. Your weight loss plan doesn't have to suffer just because you choose the couch over the health club.

There are exercises to do while watching TV. You can burn about 220 calories or more during your favorite programs. And you don't even need expensive equipment.

In addition to burning calories, there are other benefits you'll enjoy if you exercise while watching TV. If you work out during commercial breaks, you're less likely to head to the kitchen for snacks.

And mindless nighttime snacking is a big contributor to weight gain. So grab your remote, tune into your favorite show and get ready to blast some fat.


How to Exercise With The TV

Woman stretching in front of her tv
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When you exercise while you watch TV, you don't have to move the entire time to burn mega calories. The workout is set up so that you do vigorous movements during commercial breaks and rest while your show is on.

So how do the calories add up? 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 will also improve strength, build muscle and improve 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, make sure you are healthy enough for a hard workout. You'll also need to clear an area that is large enough for you to extend your arms fully and step forward and back without hitting anything.

Of course, you can make your movements smaller to accommodate furniture, but you'll burn more calories if you use your full body and make your movements big and vigorous.

If you have a pair of weights, grab them. The first time that 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 to Burn Fat

Parents and kids walking upstairs at home
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Any smart workout to burn fat begins with a warm-up. Your TV workout is no different. But your warm-up doesn't have to be intense. In fact, if you've been active for most of the day your body may already be prepared to move.

But to make sure your muscles are ready, take 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 that burn extra calories.

Once your muscles are warm, your body is ready to burn fat and calories.


Lower Body Exercises

lunge exercise
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Are you ready to shape your legs with a lower body workout? During the first commercial break, you'll do several variations of the lunge. This exercise will tighten and tone your thighs, glutes (your butt), calves and even your abs.

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 greater 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.

During the second commercial step to the side instead of to the front. You'll notice the muscles of your inner and outer thigh working harder. When a new commercial comes on, step to the back instead of to the side. 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, make sure 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
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To work your upper body, you'll do push-up variations during commercial breaks. Think push-ups are too hard? Don't worry. There are plenty of variations that 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.

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


Get Tight Abs

Exercise at Home
BreatheFitness / Getty Images

Of course, you'll want to get tight abs while you watch TV, too. This will be the simplest part of your television workout but not the easiest. To get lean, tight, strong abs, you'll do a basic plank exercise and a few variations.

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. Need an extra challenge? Try a few plank variations to work different parts of your midsection.


Burn More Fat

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. That's good! You've already worked your upper body, your lower body, and your abs.

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

To burn more calories while you watch TV, repeat this workout sequence two more times. Most of us watch 2-3 hours of television per night so it should be simple to complete the workout two more times.

Is it easy? No. But can this workout be effective? Yes!


Other Considerations

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.

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7 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.
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  2. Hosford B. The common mistakes people make when warming up. American Council on Fitness. 2015.

  3. Side lunge. American Council on Exercise.

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

  5. Front plank. American Council on Exercise.

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

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