This post is not at all about endorsing that you spend a lot of time in front of TV’s or screens but I’m also a realist. At least an hour of my day, especially during the Winter, darker months, is spent watching TV. I don’t have cable or satellite so I usually end up watching a documentary I can stream online, or I queue up a few videos during the week using Vimeo or Youtubes “Watch Later” feature and then watch them all at once.
I’m not a fan of sitting for long periods of time so I started looking for stretches and exercises I could do that wouldn’t be so distracting as to make trying to watch and learn something on the TV redundant.
I am also not recommending that these should become your only stretching and exercise regime when not engaging in your chosen activities. For me these exercises are merely supplemental to my own regular Yoga and exercise schedule. It’s an alternative to statically sitting or lying for an hour.
I run, climb, ski and hike mainly so these exercises are geared more towards those activities. Still, everyone can do them and you will notice improvements over time if you stay consistent.
1. IT Band Stretches:
If you run or even hike and backpack long distances then IT Band stretches are excellent. I used to suffer from stiff and sore knee joints before I started to stretch my ITB on a regular basis. Here are a few I do on a regular basis.
Seated IT Band Stretch:
If you have a foam roller and Yoga mat you can also do the following in front of the TV if you have the floor space.
2. Hip Flexor Stretch:
Similar to the IT Band, Hip Flexor stretches are not only great for the legs but also for nagging lower back pain which I sometimes suffer from.
This whole Yin Yoga video is excellent, but skip to minute 39:20 to see a pose I do if I’m lying on the couch to give my hip flexor a stretch.
Trusty Squats. I do as many reps as I can or few sets a minute or two apart. Do what works for you.
4. Thigh Steering Exercise:
Skip to minute 1:40 to see the exercise. It may look simple but trust me, if you don’t ski regularly it will start to feel pretty difficult around the 25 to 35 rep mark.
5. Heel Raises:
Pretty straightforward exercise. Good working on calf strength, endurance and flexibility. I primarily do them for ice climbing as I get screaming calf muscles even when I’m in a relaxed stance on the ice and my heels are lowered.
6. Finger and hand work:
You will need the Gripmaster for this. It can be found at most locations that sell climbing equipment. Simple idea, just work on your finger and grip strength. It comes with a variety of exercises you can perform:
Another option, is to fill a container with either sand or rice and do these hand exercises. Looks easy, but they work.
Finally, if you have a doorway facing the screen you can do doorjam dead hangs for your shoulders and hands. WARNING: You should already be regularly climbing and training your arms and hands before doing these. This is NOT a beginner exercise. Do NOT crimp your fingers, maintain an open palm with relaxed, unhunched, shoulders.
The video shows the climber using a hangboard, but you can use the top lip of a door jam for the same effect.
7. Core work:
Like the Squat, the Plank is a trusty, simple workout for your core that you can do almost anywhere. This video shows some different variations that you can try. I prefer the side planks as I can face the TV.
So there you have it, a simple selection of exercises and stretches you can do while watching something on the Boob Tube. Obviously I’m going to recommend reducing the time you spend in front of screens, but when you are there you don’t have to just sit or lie down. Maybe don’t try these exercises in a Cinema as it might prove distracting to members of the audience.
There are many more exercises and stretches that would also work that I haven’t mentioned. If you can think of any good ones then feel free to let me know.