Sunday, June 14, 2015

Breaking Bad Meets Bicep Curls

Did you know binge watching "Breaking Bad" or "House of Cards," or any show for that matter could be bad for your heart?  According to an article in the June 11, 2015 edition of North Jersey's newspaper, The Record it can. The article also states that "some experts" say binge watching "may be a sign of depression and can leave you with blurred memories of the whole experience." Whoa! Does that mean after watching two or three episodes of "Breaking Bad" in one sitting I'm not going to remember what happened? I beg to differ.  I do know what Walt and Jesse are up to and I do remember what Francis and Clare did on "House of Cards." And, how can I forget Zoe at the train station? 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, as stated in the article, binge- watching is "watching multiple episodes of a TV series in a short span of time."  If I tweak that definition, I understand how this phenomenon which seems to have come into style with the advent of Netflix  (though really is much older - think of DVDs and videocassettes) can be dangerous to your health. Sitting in front of the tube hour after hour is not good for your heart, weight, bones, mind, well-being etc. Simply put, a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy.

 But how about only watching two episodes a night?  Doesn't that compute to the same as watching a two hour movie? It's probably even less since the shows aren't really an hour long. And what if you only watch a few nights a week, not all seven? If that's considered binge watching, I'm guilty! If you are, too, read on. I’m here to help.

Don't turn off the TV. Enjoy the show. But, only watch two or three episodes at a time. I try to keep it to two, but I will admit there are times when I just can't turn it off. That third episode sneaks in as easily as a delicious piece of chocolate. Do I feel guilty? Yes. So, I get up and move around. You can too. Here are some suggestions for what you can do while staring at the tube.  

Strength Training While Watching TV

First - get off the chair! Then:
Stand in front of the chair and step forward about 12 inches. Next, squat down as if you were going to sit on the chair but DON'T. The back of your thighs can touch the seat but they don't have to. (easier if you're using a kitchen chair rather than a comfy recliner). Do this several times. You'll feel the work in your thighs and buttocks. It's great strength training and will be a huge benefit as you age. You'll be able to get up from the toilet all by yourself at 90! Or, how about getting up from a sand chair this summer?

Now you can sit back down for a little while and sink into Don Draper. (Oh! What a yummy thought). Give yourself no more than thirty minutes and pop up again. Do some hopscotches. 
This is not the game you draw on the blacktop or your driveway and hop from one number to the next. These hopscotches are great for working your hamstrings, latts (lattisimus dorsi, the side muscles down your back) and for building stamina.  

Lift your right heel behind you and touch it with your left hand - put them down and repeat with your left heel and right hand - do this several times, pick up the pace, let your arm raise high overhead - reach for the ceiling before you bring it down to touch the heel and feel your heart rate go up a bit. You will kick up the energy you've lost sitting and staring at the tube and maybe even remember what's happening in the story. Oxygen to the brain will help combat that blurred memory from binge watching.
While you're at it, after 8-12 repetitions switch the heels to the front. Touch each with the opposite hand. Now you're waking up your inner thighs. Remember, while you do these and any other exercise - pull your belly in and stand up straight!

Leg swings are good, too. After you've taken a bit of a rest, stand up again. You might want to have a chair or wall nearby in case you lose your balance since you'll be standing on one leg for these exercises: Swing your Right leg forward and back while pulling in your abdominals 8-12x. Swing gently from the hip. Only your leg is moving here NOT YOUR ENTIRE BODY. Repeat for the Left leg. Then go back to your Right leg again and lift it up and down sideways 8-12x and repeat for the Left. Get creative - lift and lower your leg in all directions, forward, back, diagonally, across the body. And keep watching the TV. You can concentrate on the show while exercising. You've got to find out if Hank will figure out Walt is Heisenberg!

And how about the biceps I mentioned in the title? Sure, you can work them sitting down, but that's not what this is all about. Get off the couch! You can use hand held weights, if you want. You're going to work your upper body while strengthening your lower body - all at the same time.
Separate your legs shoulder width apart. Hold weights in your hands (if you have them)
Plie (be a ballerina, or in simpler language bend your knees) - AT THE SAME TIME: bend elbows bringing hands to shoulders - Next: straighten legs and lift arms overhead (palms facing out) Then: bend knees again and bring hands to shoulders (palms in) Finally: straighten legs and lower arms at sides (palms out). Repeat 8-12x

If you love using equipment, stability balls are great for exercising while watching television. Just sitting on the big ball activates your core muscles. Bounce on it, kick up your legs (or just lift one at a time), circle your hips, challenge yourself. Enjoy the show and improve your balance and core.

There are many more exercises you can perform while watching TV; these are just a few to get you started. Whether you are binge watching or flipping channels, don't sit for hours. As the article in the Record states, "It can be bad for your heart."

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