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5 Quick Exercises to Do During Commercial Breaks

By Marcia Mangum Cronin

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Did you eat too much turkey? Drink too much wine? Finish off with three slices of pie?

The holidays often aren't kind to our diets or exercise routines. First, there's the huge Thanksgiving feast, followed by hours of sitting around talking or watching football or favorite movies. Then comes more than a month of overeating and celebrating.

If you're going to overindulge and spend hours sitting in front of the TV, turn those commercial breaks into short exercise sessions, suggests Kimberly Hurley, a physical education professor at Ball State.

"Many people just switch channels during commercials," says Kimberly Hurley, a physical education professor at Ball State. Or worse, they get up to get a snack. "I suggest that you get up and move for a minute or two. In addition to getting your heart rate up, it certainly can help to get the digestion moving after someone has sat with a full belly."

Here are her top five exercises, which she recommends you do for 30 seconds each:

  1. Squats: Crouch and rise repeatedly. Use a wall or chair to support the movement, if needed. 
  2. Planks: This resembles the first part of a push-up, in which you are raised on your hands and toes with your body in a straight line.
  3. Curl up: Resembling a modified sit-up, you simply raise your shoulders off the ground.
  4. Standing cross-body punches: While standing with knees slightly bent, punch across your body in a controlled movement.
  5. Climbers: This also resembles a push-up. Start in the same position as for plank, then move your leg toward your head and shoulders and return it to the plank position. Then alternate, as if climbing.

Doing each exercise during the commercials guarantees a healthy sweat during 30 minutes of television viewing, Hurley says. The moves are not extreme and can be done by anyone in good health. "The whole family can get involved, making the holidays even more fun for everyone," she adds.

Don't stop until your show comes back on (you may never have realized how long those commercial breaks are). And, if you have to use a break to visit the bathroom, try doing some standing push-ups, by leaning on the edge of the vanity. That's my favorite way to sneak in some quick exercise throughout the day.

Some folks get even more ambitious and ride a stationary bike or use other exercise equipment while watching TV. Whatever you choose, remember to move.

It can't hurt (much)—and it might help you work off some of those excess holiday calories.