Add on Habit: Screen Time Equals Exercise Time
Screen time when you are consuming media might not necessarily be a positive habit to add on to, but many of us find ourselves in front of screens watching videos, TV Shows, Movies, and reading books, news, and blogs. By establishing add on habit, you can make this relaxing time more productive and fun by adding on some exercises. A lot of people have discovered the reverse of this. Lots of people read and watch videos at the gym while they are on some exercise machine. This is great and I am not proposing you do something this strenuous. Instead, how about doing some simple stretches, leg raises, planks, or squats while using those screens?
I think squats are especially good when you are watching a screen that is far away. You can limit your time sitting and at the same time open up your hips and build flexibility in your lower body and lower back. Even a few minutes during your screen time will start to show big gains.
Another great one I do is leg raises while laying down with my tablet or book. When you are using your arms to stabilize the screen (or book), your legs are basically doing nothing. Get them involved in some hip adductor/abductor strengthening. One easy one is called "clams". You lie on your side with one leg on top of the other with your knees bent, and then you slowly separate your knees while keeping your ankles together. The opening is like the mouth of a clam. You can do this exercise on both sides. Rotating will help keep your arms from getting tired too. There are a couple of variations on this called "straight leg raises". You can also do them on your back if you want to work on your hamstring flexibility. I like to sprinkle in these leg exercises randomly as I am using a screen or reading. It keeps me active during an otherwise sedentary period.
I think stretching can be an especially good one to do while using a screen. You can accumulate a good amount of time in various stretches while watching something without even thinking about it. By hanging out more in some of the end range of motion, you can develop more comfort with being in that position. This is how Andrea developed her flexibility to do the splits during high school. Lots of time spent stretching while reading.
Screen watching and reading time can have pretty negative results on your body and overall fitness. By adding a few of these habits into your screen watching time you can augment these activities with positive improvements to your body. Just a little motion and activity can go a long way to reversing the negative effects of laying motionless and leave you with more flexibility and strength.