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Why You Should Never Watch TV While Working Out

Bonus: Experts say you'll miss out on any depressing news.

This week, luxury fitness chain Life Time made headlines by announcing that they would be removing all cable news channels–including CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News–from their TV gyms.

While many people might feel like they are doubling down on productivity by catching up on the news while doing their daily run on the treadmill, Life Time spokeswoman Natalie Bushaw said Thursday that the decision to scrub these channels stemmed from the fact that many members felt the current negative political environment and partisan divisiveness was detrimental to working out.

"[There have been] many member requests received over time across the country and in keeping with our overall healthy way of life philosophy and commitment to provide family-oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content," Bushaw told The St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The response to the decision has so far been mixed, with some people praising the fitness center for creating a more stress-free environment in a place where people go to relieve tension, and others complaining that it interferes with their exercise routine.

But, the truth is, as much as people may enjoy watching TV while working out, experts would say that doing so actually prevents you from getting the optimal results.

Greg Justice, an exercise physiologist at AYC Health & Fitness in Kansas City, told Women's Health that watching TV on the treadmill is detrimental in several meaningful ways, which we've listed below. And for more great fitness advice, check out The Single Best Way to Boost Your Metabolism Every Day. 

It Strains Your Neck

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"When you're on the treadmill, you really need to face forward with your head, your heart, and your hips all lined up," Justice said. "But if you're looking down at the screen—or even if you're looking all the way up if your treadmill doesn't have its own TV and you're watching one on the wall—you aren't looking straight ahead. You really heighten your chance for injury in that position."

You Don't Push Yourself As Hard

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"TV can distract you from mixing things up and shocking the body with speed and incline intervals, which I always recommend to get the most efficient workout in,"Justice said.

You Don't Burn As Many Calories

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"While it's OK to hold the handles for a little bit of time if there's a safety issue with balance, holding them for too long means that your full weight isn't supported—and, thus, you're not burning as many calories," Justice said.

It's Distracting

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Sports psychology consultant Greg Chertok told Outside magazine that watching TV while working out is only a good idea if you're trying to maintain a basic level of activity. Training/weight loss/muscle work requires focus and concentration, so splitting up your attention divides your results in half.

"Attending to, following and processing movie content demands lots of cognitive storage, which depletes reserves that would otherwise be used to workout vigorously."

It Prevents You From Relieving Stress

Man showing stress at the gym

One of the benefits of working out is that it gives your brain a chance to rest as your body takes over, and thereby has a meditative, stress-relieving effect. Engaging your mind and emotions with today's turbulent content can throw all of that zen into the trash. Exercise can often help clear your mind and help you solve problems," University of Texas professor John Higgins said in the Outside article. "If you're now focused on the movie, you may lose that valuable benefit."
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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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