The Couch Potato Conundrum

Do you turn into a couch potato during football season? Don’t worry—with a bit of balance, you can stay fit and still enjoy watching your favorite sport. Fall means football, and football season can mean hours of sitting on the couch, cheering on your favorite team. It’s easy to skip exercise when you have other plans, but with each extra hour you spend sitting, you’re damaging your health just a little more. Fortunately, it is possible to have your cake and eat it, too. Rather than falling into unhealthy habits—and using the big game as an excuse to stay away from the gym another day—give the couch potato workout a try. Most televised sporting events include plenty of commercials. Next time you sit down to watch your team play, use these breaks to get in short bursts of exercise that will get your heart rate up, and will cut your couch potato time down. Start by stretching during the pregame show, then rotate through these high-intensity exercises each time a commercial break occurs:

  • Cardio—If there’s room, jump rope in 30-second intervals. March in place with high knees, then do jumping jacks.
  • Core—Planks and sit-ups are good for your core. For a challenge, try adding crunches in a variety of more difficult positions—for example, bicycles, reaching an arm to one side and then the other or with your legs crossed in the air.
  • Upper body—Tricep dips can be done using the edge of your sofa, as can incline press-ups. Move to the floor for push-ups.
  • Lower body—Try lunges and squats on your way to the kitchen or bathroom. Move to the nearest wall for 30-second wall sits. By the end of the game, you’ll be sweating as much as your favorite player—and your body will thank you.

Eat This, Not That: Tailgate Season Edition

One of the best things about football season is the food—unless you’re trying to make health-conscious choices. Every burger, hot wing, plate of chili-cheese fries and gooey, delicious dessert looks more tempting the longer you stay away, and suddenly the nutritious eating you were so proud of seems like the world’s biggest chore. Fear not, football fans. Whether it’s a tailgate at your alma mater or a viewing party with friends in your living room, you have dinner and snack options that let you partake of the time-honored tradition of eating and yelling at your favorite team, but without damaging your healthy eating streak.

Give these simple swaps a try:

  •  For the main course, serve turkey burgers in place of high-fat ground beef burgers. If you prefer wings, skip the skin or substitute grilled chicken strips with your favorite sauce.
  • Are you a dip person? Hummus or Greek yogurt-based dips are good replacements for traditional, cheese-laden dips that are often bad for your heart. For an extra health boost, pair them with cut vegetables rather than chips.
  • Grilled fruit—particularly pineapple—is a great dessert substitute that should satisfy your sweets craving.

Sources: arthritis.org, acefitness.org, ahealthiermichigan.org, heart.org, foodinsight.org, ahealthiermichigan.org

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