Not necessarily evil

Since we’re back to natural disasters this week, I considered writing about the Flash Flood Swimming Workout. But it would really be more like the Flash Flood Drowning Workout, and frankly there is very little cardiovascular benefit to an exercise where no breathing is involved.

So instead I’ll go back to last Friday when guest blogger Darvis Sims warned us about the dangers of sitting. Now he’s right, too much sitting can be bad for you. But this Friday I’m going to write in defense of a much-maligned activity often linked with sitting – watching TV.Personal Fitness Trainer Kate Dolan says TV might be good for you

I contend that watching TV can be beneficial to your health. It all depends on what you do while watching and that may depend on what you’re watching.

Over ten years ago, I gave up my gym membership and started working out at home in front of the TV. I soon learned a few things that work and don’t work, at least for me. I learned that strength training was a little easier while watching TV than trying to maintain a cardio workout pace. And I learned I couldn’t manage to exercise at all while watching anything with a plot. Even a really terrible inane sitcom plot was enough to leave me standing dumb and still in front of the screen wondering what would happen next. Music video channels didn’t work very well either because for every three minutes I spent moving to the music, I spend another ten to fifteen minutes flipping through channels trying to find a song I liked. So most of the time I put on History Channel documentaries, did some push ups and compound moves with hand weights. That worked okay.

But a few years ago, I changed the channel and that made all the difference. Using the “On Demand” feature on our cable, I started working out with Exercise TV.

The workouts are free, and I think they’re really intended to be commercials for programs that they want you to buy. But I don’t buy workouts because I know I’ll just get tired of them. So the rotating sampler of free workouts are perfect for me.

They offer everything from bellydancing to bootcamp and at all different levels of difficulty. My sister, who is just starting to exercise, likes the walking workouts where the teacher laughs a lot and says she doesn’t care what foot you use. I like something a little more challenging. The point is that it does challenge me. The different trainers on the videos push me much harder than I would push myself, especially when it comes to things like lunges where, if left to my own devices, I tend to find one rep on each leg to be quite sufficient.

Not all the videos are particularly good. I don’t consider Kim Kardashian to be a fitness expert, so I won’t be working out with her on a regular basis. But there things that work for me. It’s been a great find.

Today I’m traveling with my husband and the fitness room at the hotel has treadmills with built in TVs. That is another way to make TV work for you. Jim got so caught up watching baseball highlights that he stayed on the machine nearly ten minutes longer than he’d intended. Another case of TV being a force for good, not evil.

So just like with the natural disasters, you can take a “bad” thing and use it to increase your fitness. Maybe next week I should find some sitting workouts to show that sitting isn’t necessarily harmful to your health either!

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