Physical therapist Kallin Collins of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital introduces “couchercising”- exercise’s that you can do on or near your couch!
“Get your doctor’s OK first, then consider trying some of these exercises during the typical 3-to-4 minute TV break”
Because: “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”.
1. Sit to stand.
Why it helps: this exercise works the quadriceps I the front of the thigh and the gluteal muscles in the buttocks, which helps protect your ability to get up from a chair, out of a car, or off a bathroom seat. “In addition, it’s possible to use repeated repetitions to get your heart rate up,” said Collins.
How to do it: Go from sitting to standing again, 10 times in a row. Rest for a minute, repeat.
2. Calf stretch
Why it helps: “keeping your calves optimally flexible can keep your walking stride longer, reduce your risk of tripping over your toes, and reduce your risk for common foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis,” said Collins
How to do it: Sit on the edge of a couch with your feet flat on the floor. With one leg, keeping your head on the floor, lift and pint the toes toward the ceiling, so that you feel a stretch in your calf muscle. Hold for 30 seconds, then do the same with the other leg, three times per leg.
3. Stand on one leg
Why it helps: “Balance gets better if you practice it, which can decrease the risk of falling,” said Collins
How to do it: Holding on to the back of a chair for stability, lift one heel toward your buttocks. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds, three times per leg. To improve your balance on unsteady surfaces, try this with shoes off on a balled-up beach towel.
4. Shoulder blade squeeze
Why it helps: “this can help prevent that rounded, shoulders-forward posture that can develop from many years of sitting, especially at a computer,” says Collins.
How to do it: Pinch your shoulder blades together, but not up (don’t shrug). Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 10 times.
5. Hand squeeze
Why it helps: “Keeping your grip strong makes it possible to turn a door knov, open a jar, and grasp a gallon of milk,” says Collins.
How to do it: While seated upright, hold a ball (the size of a basketball) over your lap with both hands, then squeeze the ball as if you’re trying to deflate it. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times, rest, then do another set of 10 repetitions. You can also improve your grip strength by squeezing a small rubber ball in one hand. Better yet, walk across the room during commercials, swinging your arms.
6. Bicep curls
Weak biceps make it difficult to lift groceries or push yourself out of a chair. Curls can keep your muscles strong and supple. With a physical therapist’s supervision, sit on an exercise ball or chair holding a one- or two-pound weight at your side, palm inward. Slowly bend one elbow, lifting your weight toward your chest. Keep your palm so it faces your shoulder. Pause. Slowly lower your arm, rotating it back again. Aim for 8 to 12 repetitions. Repeat with your other arm.