Love TV? Do This During Commercials

Woman exercising in front of television

Medically reviewed in November 2021

Are you a TV addict? Try this: When your favorite show breaks for commercial, get off the couch and step in place.

Too much time watching The Real Housewives or ESPN contributes to weight gain and obesity because it often replaces pursuits that burn more calories. Experts at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, hypothesized that having people get up and step in place during all the commercials would help address that.

The researchers measured the calories that 23 adults burned while resting, sitting, standing, stepping in place and walking on a treadmill at 3 miles per hour. Then the participants watched TV for an hour while lounging and for another hour while stepping during commercials.

Participants burned no more calories while sitting and watching TV than they did just resting. But when they stepped in place during commercials, they racked up an average of 25 minutes of physical activity and 2,111 steps to burn 40 calories per hour—all without breaking a sweat or losing track of who was voted off Dancing with the Stars. (Related: Try these other anywhere, anytime exercises.)

Need more tips for curbing the TV habit?

  • Don't eat while watching TV.
  • Plan your viewing ahead of time so you watch what you really enjoy and skip the rest.
  • Make your muscles work even while you sit. Swap the couch for an exercise ball.

Just be sure those steps during the commercials don’t lead you to the kitchen for a snack!

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