How to Make TV Good for You

CSI fans (and NASCAR nuts), take note: Prolonged sagging and slumping on the sofa while you watch your favorite show may be almost as bad for your back muscles as an injury. When muscles aren't used (they're not holding you up; the sofa is), they can actually waste away, setting you up for low back pain. Yes, you: Eight out of ten people will have back pain at some point in their lives.
But plopping your butt on an exercise ball engages those muscles almost constantly, since even the littlest moves require small shifts and rebalances. Bonus: You won't snooze through the part where they figure out whose DNA really was at the crime scene.
While you're on the ball, you might as well work on your abs during commercials (it beats grabbing a snack, for so many reasons). Use the ball to do these crunches. They'll give you even stronger muscles than if you did them on the floor.
1. Sit on the exercise ball, feet flat on the floor, knees hip-width apart and bent at a 90-degree angle.
2. Lace your hands behind your head, elbows pointed out to the sides, and slowly roll back until your mid-back rests on the ball.
3. Curl up the way you would on the floor: Contract your abdominal muscles (pull your navel toward your spine, flattening and hollowing your abdomen) and allow your shoulders and upper mid-back (if you can) to come a few inches off the ball. Hold for a second, and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Start thinking about being able to button your skinny jeans again.


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