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Couchersizing during TV time builds muscle, protects mobility, from the December 2013 Harvard Health Letter

Many people have trouble finding the motivation to get off the couch and exercise. For them, couchersizing is one way to get moving, reports the December 2013 Harvard Health Letter. That means staying on or near the couch and exercising while watching television.

"A growing body of literature connects the amount of time you spend sitting to illness and even death. Minimizing long periods of inactivity, like exercising during commercial breaks, can help reduce the risk of injury and may even help you live longer," says Kailin Collins, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

It's possible to work many different muscle groups while seated on the couch. To boost heart rate, work the oblique muscles on the sides of the abdomen, and whittle the waist, twist your torso from side to side for the length of a commercial break. It's also possible to exercise while lying on the couch: with legs extended, squeeze the quadriceps on the front of the thigh for a count of 10, then relax. Repeat several times. Try leg lifts while lying flat to build abs, or side lifts to strengthen hip muscles.

Other examples of couchersizing include:

  • sit to stand
  • calf stretches
  • standing on one leg
  • shoulder blade squeeze
  • hand squeeze

Of course, it's also a good practice to walk around the room with arms a-swinging, while watching a show or during commercials. The more movement, the more the heart, muscles, brain, and the rest of the body will benefit.

Read the full-length article: "Easy exercises for couch potatoes"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Health Letter

  • Choosing a high-tech alerting device
  • Ask the doctor
  • Can you name that headache?
  • Caffeine caution: Watch for surprising sources
  • Easy exercises for couch potatoes
  • The savvy sleeper: Wean yourself off sleep aids
  • Medication errors and how to avoid them
  • News briefs: How long will you stay healthy?
  • News briefs: Is your cholesterol drug putting you at risk for vision loss?
  • News briefs: Rethink drinking juice vs. eating whole fruit

More Harvard Health News »

About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.