Ready to Lose Weight? Start by Watching TV

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
You probably already know that watching too much TV can lead to a variety of problems. For example, the light from the screen alters your circadian rhythm, so you have difficulty sleeping. And the slouching position you take on the couch misaligns your spine, resulting in neck, shoulder, and back pain.

In fact, studies show that for every additional three hours participants spent in front of their TV, their risk of dying jumps an average of 13 percent. And according to Stephen Kopeck, MD, the increased risk of disease associated with watching television "is similar to what you see with high cholesterol or blood pressure or smoking."

But did you know that you can also lose weight while watching TV?

With the following techniques, tips, and tricks, you can still unwind with your favorite sitcom while you stay healthy.

1. Record Your Shows and Plan Your TV Time

If you rely on cable for your television fix, invest in a DVR to record your shows. This allows you to pick and choose when you watch the most recent episode of The Walking Dead rather than center your entire schedule on the event. You can then set a time specifically for TV and balance your viewing with more active hobbies.

If you prefer to watch Bob's Burgers via Netflix or other video streaming services, be careful with binge watching, or watching more than 2 episodes in a single sitting. Since Netflix often shows episodes in a continuous stream, you'll need to actively press the remote to stop play.

To prevent the "just one more episode" mentality, set an alarm for when you want to stop watching and make yourself earn your next episode through exercise.

2. Set Aside Healthy Snacks

Movie theater popcorn dripping in butter and salt may feel like the ultimate TV-watching snack, but don't forget that you can pick healthier options.

Roasted chickpeas can satisfy your craving for crunchy foods while providing a healthy dose of fiber and protein. If you prefer sweet over salty, opt for fresh crispy apples. To amp up your protein intake, top your apple slices with natural peanut butter.

As you discover new healthy foods, remember to limit your portions, too. Instead of taking an entire bottle of homemade salsa and a large bag of tortilla chips to the couch for mindless munching, scoop these foods into a smaller bowl and savor each bite.

3. Exercise During Commercials

Many cable providers (and even a few online streaming companies) break up your shows with several minutes of advertising. Instead of using this time to refill your snack bowl, make the most of each commercial with a short burst of physical activity.

Some possible exercises could include:

Curtsy Squats. Start in a standing position with feet hip distance apart. Bring your left leg behind you into a curtsy position, lowering yourself as close to the ground as you can. Stand up again and repeat with the other leg.
Burpee. Start in a standing position, then crouch and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Shoot your legs out behind you so you move into a plank position. Bring your legs back into a crouch. Then jump from the crouch as high as you can, with your arms reaching overhead. Return to your neutral standing position and repeat. For an extra challenge, perform a pushup when you move into the plank position.
V- Crunch. Lie on your back with your arms stretched overhead, holding a dumbbell or medicine ball. Simultaneously crunch your straight legs and lift your arms up so your legs and arms touch. Lower your legs and arms, but don't let them rest on the ground between repetitions.

Don't have commercials in your shows? You can still squeeze in short bursts of activity by participating in the exercise equivalent of a drinking game. Whenever a character in your show performs or says a set action, do pushups, crunches, or lunges. For example, if you watch Jeopardy and someone answers a question wrong, do 15 jumping jacks. Or if you watch Dr. Who, do 30 glute-kicks whenever you hear the TARDIS sound.

4. Never Stop Moving

If you don't want to miss the important plot points of your show as you jump, twist, and stretch, burn calories through more steady activities. If you have a treadmill or exercise bike, place your equipment in front of the TV so you can keep moving without taking your eyes of the screen.

Still feels like too much of a distraction? Try fidgeting, tapping your toes, and wriggling in your seat. The more you move (no matter how small), the more calories your burn as you watch TV.

Need More Help Losing Weight?

These techniques can help you stay slim, but if you still struggle to lose those extra pounds, don't hesitate to call on a weight loss specialist for additional help. He or she can analyze your current lifestyle (TV binging and all) to determine the best way for you to stay fit.
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