Best shows to watch while working out on the treadmill

When you’re on the couch you can relax and give TV shows your undivided attention but this isn’t the case on a treadmill. The main goal is to perform while working out and whether you’re following a workout plan or simply distracted by the discomfort of exercising, you may find some shows favourable to others to get you through it. In fact, as you’ll discover shortly, certain types of shows have been shown by research to enhance your performance to reach those fitness goals. So stay tuned as we give you the best recommendations for built-in entertainment apps like Netflix while walking and running on the treadmill.

Comedy shows

Contrary to what you might believe at first, comedy is actually a great choice for running. Try to watch some comedy shows while working out on the treadmill. An Oxford university study found that laughing increased your pain threshold. This helps with your ability to manage discomfort during exercise. It also boosts your mood, which can give you more motivation to keep going as you fatigue and you tend to reflect on the workout more positively. Another study measuring laughter by Georgia State University recorded significant improvements among participants in aerobic endurance, mental health, and outcome expectations for exercise when tasked with 45 minute moderate intensity training. More so, bouts of snickering help relax the muscles and improve blood flow, allowing you to be better prepared for working out and recovery. Light comedy while walking or at the beginning and end of a run is preferable as heavy, prolonged laughter could interfere with your breathing and technique. Examples include:

  • South Park
  • New Girl
  • After Life
  • It’s always sunny in Philadelphia
  • F is for Family

Light-hearted and fun shows

Shows that are hard to follow or disheartening are some of the most captivating but also the worst to watch while working out. High quality treadmills with screens help you to stay focused but the constant movement from running can be distracting and cause you to miss key details in the storyline. Also, shows that bring the mood down will likely reduce your desire to exercise. Unless you like channelling your bad mood into exercise as a stress reliever, putting yourself into a positive state of mind with good emotions are associated with better workouts. Some of the best shows to watch are light-hearted drama series or sitcoms that are humorous with a healthy dose of cliches. The stimulus from the shooting and shouting etc promote the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that run through the brain. However, binge watching can have a sedative effect so don’t rely on them for long, low intensity sessions. Examples include:

  • Emily in Paris
  • Friends
  • The Simpsons
  • Modern Family
  • Doom Patrol
  • 90 Day FiancĂ©

Nature documentary shows

Running on a treadmill is extremely convenient but you sometimes get the sense that you’re missing out on exploring the great outdoors. Nature documentary shows take you on a journey through the wilderness with inspiring visuals that leave you in awe. If nothing else, it can bring back that sense of connectedness with the world. It also features animal survival instincts, which usually includes predator and prey running as if their lives depend on it – which they do! Even though humans have hacked the game of life, it can put the importance of running and staying fit into perspective from an evolutionary standpoint and become a source of appreciation if not motivation. The intensity and unpredictability in these shows keep you on your toes. The depictions of reality are sometimes negative but can shift your brain into survival mode with increased alertness (similar to ‘arousal’ in sport) which may be linked to better athletic performance. Examples include:

  • Our Planet
  • Planet Earth
  • David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet
  • Alone

Runner-friendly Podcast shows

Podcasts are ideal for listening and don’t require video to be engaging for runners. The beauty of podcasts is their personal touch to make you feel like you’re part of the conversation. This has benefits as studies have shown that the socialising element of being at the gym is a large reason many people go and stick to it. Working out on the treadmill at home may feel isolating at times so this is the perfect way to stay connected. More than that, many podcasts offer the best source of motivation, coaching, laughter, and interesting life stories that are good for your mental and physical wellbeing. Examples include:

  • Defy the Odds with David Goggins
  • 10% Happier
  • The Rambling Runner
  • Joe Rogan Experience
  • Running Commentary
  • The Morning Shakeout
  • Radio Headspace

Everyone has different preferences and you’ll want to watch shows you are familiar with while working out on the treadmill. This should provide a blueprint to help you find the best matches to stay entertained, motivated and performing at your best.

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