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Listening to music is the most common thing people do while working out and many people find it essential for exercising.  Some people also like to view their favorite tv shows on their smart devices to distract themselves from the act of exercising.

Personally, when I am downright serious about my workout, I don’t need anything to distract me from crushing it.  Most athletes and hardcore exercisers actually enjoy the physical strain, sweat, and exhausting aspects of exercise.  Those of you who detest it,  may need a lot more motivation to drag yourself into that dreaded gym.  So can you really get an effective workout while your eyes are glued to media?

First, the Negatives

We’ve all seen those individuals that walk at 2.8 mph while they thumb through the gossip magazines.  It is also commonplace to see people stream episodes while aimlessly pedaling away on the elliptical.  Most fitness professionals will probably agree that reading while exercising probably doesn’t equate to a high quality workout.  The most notable issue with viewing while exercising is decreased exercise intensity.  Distractions may make you unable to concentrate on pushing yourself hard enough, maintaining your target heart rate, or keeping your pedal cadence high.  Another major issue is an increased risk of injury especially with moveable equipment such as a treadmill.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people step on the side rails, trip, and almost fall off because they weren’t spatially aware of their position on the treadmill.  Viewing media can also greatly affect posture, causing strain on the neck, which is especially bad after you sit at a desk all day.  I always suggest my clients do the exact opposite of what they do in their profession while at the gym.  If you front side muscles are tight due to excessive sitting, exercise all those posterior muscles.  If you stare down at a computer screen all day, it doesn’t make sense to hover over a media device while exercising at the gym.

There are Positives

With a fair number of negatives to viewing media while exercising, there are a few positives to distracting yourself while exercising.  Viewing media can make you increase your total exercise duration, which is great when trying to accumulate a set number of miles or calories.  If I know my favorite show is on and I’d be sitting on the couch, I force myself to go to the gym and watch it while I sweat.  I also like to watch TV while catching my breath during sets on my strength training day.  Another thing to try is sprinting or increasing intensity during each commercial break.  If you are more of a reader, read books on your tablet so there is less page flipping and fewer chances of flying off the treadmill.  Audio books are also a great option allowing for more concentration while you workout.  Many of my clients read or watch their favorite shows only when they are in the gym.  This can make you workout more often and more consistently if you reward yourself with something you enjoy.  The greatest positive to reading or viewing while at the gym is increased exercise enjoyment.  Any way I can help my clients learn to love exercise as much as I do is fine by me.

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