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Couch Potatoes: Stepping in Place During Commercials Counts as Exercise

Tim Boyer's picture
Exercise needed during TV Commercials

Exercise scientists have determined that getting couch potatoes to step in place—just during TV commercials—counts as exercise that can result in significant calorie burn. Read on to find out how many calories you can burn while stepping in place during commercials as opposed to sitting throughout commercials or adding a treadmill to your TV watching routine.

A study involving 23 men and women ranging in body weight from normal to obese and ages 18 to 65 were placed in an exercise study to determine the energy cost of TV commercial stepping and determine the number of steps and minutes a couch potato can perform during one hour of TV commercial stepping.

The study conditions were of two parts: The first part was to determine the test subjects’ energy expenditure at rest, sitting, standing, stepping in place and walking at a rate of 3 miles per hour on a treadmill. In the second part, the study participants were measured during one hour of sitting or lying down while watching TV and one hour of stepping in place during commercials within one hour of TV programming. The number of steps taken was monitored with a hand tally counter.

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What the researchers found was that there are no differences in calories burned whether a person is lying down or sitting, and that inactivity during one hour of TV watching resulted in 81 calories burned.

More importantly, however, what they found was that stepping in place just during the commercials during one hour of programming resulted in a person burning an average of 148 calories, which encompassed 2,111 steps in 25 minutes of total stepping/commercial time. Stepping in place during an entire hour of TV programming resulted in 258 calories burned.

In comparison to a more active activity, study subjects who walked on a treadmill for one hour burned 304 calories on average.

The authors of the paper concluded that encouraging couch potatoes to take up a small behavior change such as stepping in place during TV commercials can increase the calories burned and the amount of physical activity in their life.
Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: “Energy Cost of Stepping in Place While Watching Television Commercials” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2012 - Volume 44 - Issue 2 - p 330–335 Steeves, Jeremy A., Thompson, Dixie L. and Bassett, David R. Jr.



Okay! I love this and YES, it does count. I tell my patients to do this. It's amazing how this adds up to better overall health - it helps control diabetes, can help weight loss. It makes a huge difference. Great info Tim.