The research is all over the place now (like here and here): The more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of cardiovascular diseases and early death—not to mention a body that’s not as fit as it should be. But as you know too well, there are only so many hours in the day, and sometimes you simply want to plop down and spend some of that time watching the TV shows you love.Fortunately, there are easy ways to get your television fix without sacrificing your healthy habits.
There are 14 or more minutes of commercials in an hour of television. Here are seven things you can do during the ads to boost your wellness—and feel a little less guilty about how much time you dedicate to reality shows.1. Do an un-workout. No, you probably won’t have time to get sweaty—and you won’t be ripped by the time the credits roll—but little bits of physical activity can add up, even if you’re not doing a full exercise routine. NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, is the energy we expend doing everything that is not eating, sleeping or working out, and is a key to keeping up your metabolism. So tidy up the living room, sort the recycling or finally hang that poster you got framed last spring. It all counts. Feel free to do jumping jacks if you prefer, or try these strength training exercises you can do in a chair.
2. Walk around the house. The American Heart Association guidelines say you should walk 30 minutes a day for cardiovascular health. If you pace around the room between segments of “Real Housewives,” you’re nearly halfway there! Just five minutes of walking every hour helps your arteries function.3. Just stand up. A May 2014 study found that the more time sedentary people spent standing, the lower their risk of death from cardiovascular disease or other causes. So when they cut to commercial, just stand up until the show returns.4. Make a cup of tea. What a quick and easy way to do something good for your whole body. Green and black teas are packed with polyphenols that fight cell damage that contributes to cancer (and wrinkles). Tea has also been shown to lower heart disease risk, boost working memory and help with weight maintenance. If you’re watching TV in the evening, go for a decaffeinated tea so you don’t disrupt your sleep. (And don’t drink it too close to bedtime if you’re prone to midnight trips to the toilet.)5. Stretch. Tight hips? Stiff neck? Knee pain? If you have any of these issues (and who doesn’t?!), then the commercial break is the perfect time to go through a regimen of stretches and easy exercises that will help relieve what aches. Here are our targeted stretches for hips, neck, back and knees.6. Floss. Flossing doesn’t have to be done standing in front of the bathroom mirror. But it does have to be done (it gets between your teeth where toothbrushes can’t reach, clearing away bacteria that can cause tooth decay), so why not do it in front of the tube? Once you have this technique down, you should be able to do it without watching: Use your thumb and forefinger to gently work the floss between two teeth. Wrap the floss around one tooth and wipe up and down to loosen and remove plaque. Then do the same on the next tooth and repeat.
7. Clean your beauty tools. Dirty nail clippers and files can transmit bacteria and fungus. Clean them with alcohol after each use (or whenever you think of it). Same goes for your makeup brushes. They can also get colonized by infection-causing bacteria, and then you use them all over your face, near your mouth and eyes. Wash brushes with warm water and soap and let them air dry while you go back to the grand finale of your program.MORE: Gross or Dangerous? The Beauty Edition