Drive Yourself To Distraction To Make Exercise Fun

Television has long been vilified for its power to distract us from more important pursuits, but it doesn't seem all that bad when you harness that enormous power of distraction into a tool to help you lose weight or get in shape.

Photo by SashaW.

The vast majority of people don't get enough exercise to ensure optimum cardiovascular health and keep unwanted pounds off. Couple that with how terribly boring logging hours on a treadmill or elliptical machine can be and most people aren't in any hurry to make sure they work enough cardio time into their day.

At self improvement and productivity weblog Stepcase Lifehack, they undertook a simple experiment in weight loss. During every commercial break they would use an aerobic step to do mini bursts of cardio activity. Over the course of a year all those little bursts add up. While squeezing in a little activity during the commercial breaks is great, we have a different approach in our household. You don't watch television unless you're exercising.

We've got an elliptical machine and free weights at a comfortable viewing distance from the television and the standing rule is, when watching television you have to be doing something fitness-related. Want to watch every season of Desperate Housewives? Not only do you get to indulge in some trashy and entertaining television, but you'll also run hundreds of miles in the process. Need to catch up on How It's Made? You'd be amazed how many curls and squats you can fit into a couple of episodes.

Whether you're working out at home or at the gym, you may be surprised at how powerful of a distraction television can be. There is no way I'd log 20 miles on the elliptical machine just staring out the front window at my lawn, but watching Chappelle Show re-runs? An hour easily flies by without notice.

Have a favourite show that keeps you on the treadmill? Maybe podcasts are more your thing? Sound off in the comments with the tools you use to take your mind off the monotony of some exercises and keep yourself trucking along.

How to Lose Weight Watching TV [Stepcase Lifehack]


    distraction is for the weak and is only viable for running and other pointless forms of exercise. steady state exercises such running are a joke and if you do them, please look into HIIT (interval training).

    Real exercise requires full attention for effectiveness. Try doing squats or exercises with heavy weights/bands while watching TV. hah.

    The popularisation of ineffective exercise methods (such as running on a treadmill at a pace comfortable and steady enough to watch TV to) never ceases to amaze me. I'm not trolling. this is true.

      Not everyone exercises to become weightlifters/get bulk/whatever. There are plenty of effective exercises that can be done on "autopilot" that you can have a distraction while doing that still get you really fit.

      Admittedly, when working hard, when focusing on certain areas, sure you need to pay attention and you need to focus but not every form of exercise is that used by people trying to look like Arnie circa 1981.

      To say that running is ineffective towards your health? I can run at a faster than jogging pace and still focus quite fine on a television for extended periods, and this has helped my health dramatically. Doing squats is something that can be done easily while marathonning 30 Rock. Hell, Nigella Lawson is a surprising motivator to do more crunches and leg lifts, and makes for amazing backing during :p

      It amazes me that you get amazed at the popularity of "getting fit and doing something fun and relaxing at the same time." We're not all personal trainers or shut in commando wannabes. Some of us like to use our little free time each day multitasking personal gain and relaxing entertainment.

      pk, way to miss the point. Not everyone wants to be an iron man or a bodybuilder. To simply write off this effective method of making exercise happen is completely stupid.

    I sort of agree with PK... if you need to be distracted by TV while working out because your exercise is so boring and feels like a chore maybe you're doing the wrong kind of workout. running on a treadmill for 45 minutes to an hour is not nearly as effective at burning fat/improving cardio as a simple 10 minute HIIT session. you don't even need any equipment, just your own body.

    I think one good part of watching TV into your exercise regime can be that it allows you to add in a workout without having to miss out on anything else. Recently i've become very busy at work and doing longer hours and my attendance at the gym has been suffering... so i was faced with the choice, stop watching one of my fave tv shows or go to the gym... instead i can watch the tv show AT the gym, allowing both eventualities. Since i'm going to the gym to increase my activity levels and maintain weight i don't think it's necessary to work at 100% while i'm there, spending an hour on the treadmill or stationary bike i wouldn't have otherwise is ALWAYS going to be a good thing!

    One of disadvantages of running on treadmill is that you could feel boring, on the other hand, running on treadmill makes you are capable to to other things to eliminate the boring feeling. When I decided to buy my treadmill from, this never bothered me at all. What I was caring are that the quality, the price and workout routine that could help me keep in shape.

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