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Temptation Bundling: 5 Fun Workouts to Do While You Watch Television

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on May 21, 2015

Do you have things you know you should do, but lack motivation to actually do them? You know you should exercise, but never seem to find the time.


You know you should eat better, but can't pass up those french fries. What if there is a solution?

Katherine Milkman came up with a plan. Her idea of temptation bundling is basically to combine two activities to solve two temptation problems. One of the activities could be something you know you should do but avoid, and the other could be something you really love isn't really that productive.For example, you know you should exercise, but you would rather watch your favorite TV show. You could bundle them together and exercise while you watch your show.

Temptation bundling could be the answer for you when willpower just isn't enough. Milkman describes temptation bundling as "a method for simultaneously tackling two types of self-control problems by harnessing consumption complementarities."  

How to Workout and Watch Television

Using the above exercise and television temptation bundling example, let's talk about workouts you can do while you are watching your favorite show. Basically, you pick your favorite show and think of some themes that commonly occur within the show. Next, you match an exercise with each theme. Finally, each time the theme comes up while you are watching the show, you do the exercise that correlates with that theme. If you don't have time to make up your own workout and show plan, you can find preplanned ideas here. Below, I'll highlight just a few popular shows and plans that  I have found recently.

Grey's Anatomy

We have to include a hospital drama at the top of this list, of course. This show many be incredibly unrealistic when it comes to what really happens in a hospital, but it certainly is entertaining to watch!

Also, [spoiler alert, if you aren't caught up!] ... 

  • During the opening scenes before the theme song, plank until you see the title screen.
  • When the doctors yell at an intern, do 10 jumping jacks.
  • When your favorite character is on screen, do 5 squats.
  • When they reference a doctor who's died or left the show, do 10 lunges on each leg.
  • When a character launches into a famous Shonda Rhimes monologue, plank until its over.
  • When Meredith Grey talks about Derek (RIP), jog in place for 1 minute.
  • When the doctors slip into the "on call room" do 25 sit ups.
  • When someone gets paged, do 30 crunches.
  • During commercial break, do 10 pushups per commercial.

Pretty Little Liars

As much as you may hate to admit it, this show is addictive. It brings back memories of high school. Here are some ways to get your body moving as you try and figure out who "A" really is:

  • When you  hear the theme song, do high knees until it is over.
  • When someone gets a text from A, do 20 sit ups.
  • When someone says, "Ally's murder," do 10 jumping jacks.
  • When Garrett is mentioned, do 5 burpees.
  • When someone uses their cell phone, do 5 squats.
  • When Hanna shops, do a plank until she is done shopping.
  • When someone gets kissed, do 10 lunges on each leg.
  • When someone cries, do 10 squats.
  • When someone tells a lie, do 10 reverse crunches.
  • During commercial break, jog in place for the first 3 commercials.

The Walking Dead

This show is incredibly popular right now. Just pretend like you are preparing for a real zombie apocolypse. 

  • When you hear the theme song, plank until it's over.
  • Every time you see a walker, do 5 squats.
  • Every time someone kills a walker, do 5 crunches.
  • Every time someone someone dies, do 30 jumping jacks.
  • Every time someone screams, do 10 lunges per leg.
  • Every time someone cries, do 10 reverse lunges.
  • Every time someone draws a weapon, do 5 push ups.
  • Every time Rick talks on the walkie-talkie, do 20 bicycles.
  • During commercial break, jog in place for the first 3 commercials.


You might have every episode of this show memorized, so that will make adding some exercise into the mix a little easier.

  • When you hear the theme song, do jumping jacks until it's over. 
  • Every time Chandler makes a joke, do 20 crunches.
  • Every time Joey does something stupid, do 25 squats.
  • Every time someone goes on a date, do 10 push ups.
  • Every time Phoebe sings, do a 1 minute wall sit.
  • When everyone is at Central Perk, do 10 burpees.
  • If Monica cleans or cooks, do 10 lunges per leg.
  • When Ross says anything geeky, do 20 mountain climbers.
  • When Rachel talks about money or fashion, do a 1 minute plank.
  • During commercial break, jog in place for the first 3 commercials.

Doctor Who

For all you Whovians out there, here is a plan for getting off the couch during your favorite episodes.

  • When you hear the theme song, jump rope until it's over.
  • Every time someone says, "Doctor", do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Every time the Doctor says, "Run," do 15 squats.
  • Every time someone gets in or out of the Tardis, do 20 crunches.
  • Every time you hear the Tardis, do 1 minute bicycle.
  • Every time someone says their catch phrase, do 10 leg lifts.
  • Every time the Doctor sonics something, do 15 Russians twists.
  • Every time the Doctor gets made, do 45 seconds of wall sits.
  • Every time they gain a new companion, do 10 burpees.
  • During commercial break, jog in place for the first 3 commercials.

Mad Men

The ladies in this show didn't sit around on the couch all day, and you shouldn't either! Here is a plan to get you moving:

  • When you hear the theme song, jump rope until it's over.
  • Every time Don sleeps with someone who is not his wife or girlfriend, do 10 high knees and 10 mountain climbers.
  • Every time Roger says something prejudiced or sexist, do 10 crunches.
  • When Pete gets angry, do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Every time Joan sarcastically whips someone into shape, do 10 push ups.
  • Every time someone at the office has a cocktail, do 10 mountain climbers
  • Every time anyone smokes, take a sip of water.
  • Every time Betty shows her terrible mothering skills, do 5 burpees.
  • Every time Peggy has success at work, do 10 tricep dips.
  • Every time Peggy has success and someone else gets the credit for it, do 10 pike presses.
  • Every time Don is confused and says, "What?" do 10 squats.
  • During commercial break, hold plank of your choice.
Do you have a particular show you're binge watching on Netflix? Make a TV workout plan and share it with us in the comments below!


Topics: Wellness