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Fitness for Couch Potatoes

Tune in and tone up with our TV-watching workout

The Workout

To get started, try this TV-watcher's workout devised by Petras, which is good even for beginners:

TV Twist


  • Seated on the floor
  • Legs extended in V-position
  • Arms out to your sides, shoulder level

Exercise: Sitting tall, twist to your right, then reach your left hand beyond your right foot. Come up and do the other side.

Benefits: Stretches and lengthens torso, stretches back of legs, strengthens abs.

Kick, Kick, Kick


  • Facedown on the floor, legs extended
  • Prop up on your elbows, abs tight
  • Elbows in line with your shoulders

Exercise: Right foot flexed, bend your knee and try to kick your rear three times (kick, kick, kick, and down). Do the other side.

Benefits: Tones buttocks and hamstring muscles.

Prop-Up Abs


  • Facedown on the floor, legs extended
  • Prop up on your elbows, abs tight
  • Elbows in line with your shoulders

Exercise: Try to lift your body from the floor using your abs, supported by forearms and toes.

Benefits: Strengthens abs and upper body.

Prime-Time Pushup


  • Facedown on the floor, legs extended
  • Hands in line with chest, a bit wider than shoulder-width apart

Exercise: Use your arms to push up. Hold briefly, and come down.

Benefits: Strengthens arms and lower back.

Commercial Crunches


  • Lying on your back
  • Feet propped up on a chair
  • Hands behind your head for support

Exercise: Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you lift your head and upper shoulders. Feel the abs, and keep your lower back to the floor.

Variation: Add a twist to each side.

Benefits: Strengthens abs.

Credit Curl-Downs


  • Lying on your back
  • Feet propped up on a chair
  • Arms down by your sides for support

Exercise: Lift your hips off the floor; hold the position for a moment. Then slowly lower hips, one vertebra at a time.

Benefits: Lengthens spine, releases tension from lower back.

Technique Tips

Finally, says Jeff Ball, author of Get Fit While You Sit, remember that even workouts at home need to be done properly. He offers these guidelines to help you get the most out of your TV workout:

  • If something hurts any part of your body, STOP. You may need to adjust your form to eliminate the problem. If that doesn't work, try a different exercise.
  • Remember to breathe at all times. Holding your breath makes exercising more difficult and could even result in injury.
  • Practice each movement before a mirror before you start.
  • Be aware of your spinal position, and keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Try to keep muscles that you're not trying to work relaxed. For example, if you are doing a leg lift, it does no good to contract the muscles of your neck.
  • Do all exercises in a slow, controlled fashion.
  • Choose a sturdy chair with adequate back support.

Now, where did I put that TV Guide?

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Reviewed on August 26, 2005

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