Fighting the sedentary spread with "How to Watch TV and Get Fit"

"How to Watch TV and Get Fit—Three Minutes at a Time" sounds like pure hype, or a sitcom, maybe both— but it's well-researched, effective program developed by Debbie Rahman, an Aspen-Colorado-based writer and registered nurse, cardiac rehab therapist and fitness trainer Diane Killian.

Debbie and Diane repeat what a physiotherapist told me (as he collected my $95): short bursts of activity will condition the body effectively; we don't need 45-minute chunks of time.

A few days ago, Debbie's son David, our superb Mac tech guru, sent a note about the book's release; he was the videographer and tech advisor. That hit my inbox when I'd been sitting for hours, meaning to get up... soon.

Yesterday, I downloaded the book, completed the self-evaluation (10 minutes), took my measurements, and began: in summary,  text and videos show how to perform a series of three to four-minute routines during TV commercials. TV isn't my problem, though, it's time on my butt in front of the screen—easily several hours a day. But, I thought, this could work pretty much the same for Mac potatoes.

Because I won't have commercials to cue me, I set a repeating timer to announce each half hour in the voice of Irish Moira. This seems about the right time between segments, and I also fit in one just before I sit down first thing.

I stand near my desk; no special equipment, no gear, no change of clothes, no sweat. (This is definitely a home-based program unless you have a private office, and can dress casually.) All the Level 1 sequences are done standing, a few against a wall.  My usual jeans are fine so far; I whip off my top and do it in my camisole. As I move through the program, I might have to keep other clothing handy; we'll see.

This is only my second day, so I need the short videos which show the correct form; soon, just the name of the exercise will do. Diane is appallingly buff (more diversity in the trainers would have been great), and those 30-minute reminders come quickly. I have just over 20 minutes between sequences, which does break my concentration but I don't "TV Fitness" all day.

There are 12 exercise sequences for a given day, but you don't have to do all of them; just pick up the next day where you left off. (At two days in, I'm finding doing two or three sequences at each break works well—that's about 8-12 minutes of exercise, easy when there's no TV show to get back to. )

Six weeks from now, I will see if there's a difference, but anything that keeps me from the magnetic pull of the chair has to be worth my ten bucks. After 18 weeks, I'll report about the full program; Debbie and Diane provide four levels and include specialized "target" area sequences, but you never have to do what you don't like, or anything that causes discomfort—and Moira says if I improve, she'll buy the Guinness. The book contains the usual disclaimer about checking with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Rahman, who quotes a poll by Vanderbilt University's Institute for Medicine and Public Health, estimates that many people spend about eight hours a day sitting between sitting on transit, in front of the TV and computer, even dining.

"How to Watch TV and Get Fit" gives me bite-sized resources to fight this, uh, spreading problem. Improved heart health, lower risk of diabetes, more toned body, better bone density, renewed energy: why not, given it's only a few minutes at a time?

You can download a sample, but I found it gave only a hint of what's in the book, so I suggest you spring for a copy. (It is currently available only as an iBook). For more information about the program and its benefits, visit WatchTVandGet Fit.

Wish me luck! I'm just hoping to address hours spent in front of a screen, immobile—but I wouldn't say no to an inch less spread in the chair zone, either.


Janice Riggs said…
Oh PLEASE keep us up to date with your progress; if this is at all useful and realistically effective, I'm going to be all over it! Thank you for sharing this with us,
TechnoMinds said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
TechnoMinds said…
Thank you so much for the kind words. I look forward to reading about progress and welcome all of your readers' comments.

If anyone has questions or needs some more info, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Here is a direct link to purchase our exercise book.

Thank you,
David Rahman
materfamilias said…
Good for you! This sounds like a very realistic, manageable approach. I'll be curious to follow your progress.
Leslie Milligan said…
I'm in! That evil chair spread has found me, too. I'll be your comparator arm of the study; n=2, so far.
Duchesse said…
Leslie Milligan: Thanks for the extra spritz of motivation. I'm surprised how quickly I'm learning the sequences.
Duchesse said…
Materfamilias: I like the format. I often intend to roll out my mat and then it's the end of the day. This seems easier, so far.
Duchesse said…
Janice: I know you are already a disciplined exerciser so you might skip ahead to Level 2 or higher... I wanted to ease in.
kathy walsh said…
I'm looking forward to your six week report and looking into this program as I work in front of the computer all day. The three times a week Pilates class is not stopping the spread for me.
Duchesse said…
Kathy walsh: I either go to a gym or walk for an hour 6 days a week, but I also sit for long stretches. I spent years in Pilates classes, and yoga... all great, but the scale of this piqued my interest.
I'll be eager to hear how you do with this program...sounds like it is convenient and you require no special equipment either which is nice for those of us who have small homes or condominiums.
Also looking forward to hearing about your results. I have some mobility issues but often do small weight workouts from a chair and yesterday I started some Chair Yoga classes - hoping that these two things plus a bit of walking will get me through winter. I took a look at the webpage and saw a few pictures (such as leg lunges) that I would not be able to do - are there any modifications available for those of us with some restrictions?
Duchesse said…
Margie: The videos offer some modifications such as doing squats holding on to a chair, but also says in several places, that is fine to skip any exercise you can't or don't want to do.
Hummingbird5 said…
Duchesse, thank you for sharing this program! I'm going to try it. I don't watch much TV, but my beloved post-retirement hobby is embroidery in all forms, which involves many hours of sitting if I want to accomplish anything. And as the experts now tell us, "sitting is the new smoking" (so now I have to feel guilty about the doing the one thing that brings me the greatest joy? sigh...). I will attempt to use the thirty minute timer like you, and insert these mini-workouts. I do wish this were an app; the iBook format not as user-friendly. Thanks again, and good luck to all of us fighting the spread. Linda
Duchesse said…
Hummingbird5: I wish it were an app too. I leave the book in my toolbar so I just open it... it's •almost• like an app that way. I could also use a little more volume. (But now that i have listened a few times I've got the hang of Level 1.)

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