Is Netflix The Key To Regular Exercise?

Can watching TV help you stick to your workout goals? If you do it properly, the answer is yes!

The fact of the matter is that, with exercise, consistency is the most important factor. WHAT you do doesn’t matter nearly as much as WHETHER you do it! With the start of the New Year, lots of folks will be picking out new exercise programs, and the challenge for many of us will be sticking with those programs long enough to make exercise a healthy, long-term habit.

In the book, “The Power of Habit,”Charles Duhigg explains that every Routine action (whether good, like exercise, or bad, like smoking) is associated in the brain with both a Cue and a Reward. The Cue triggers the Routine, and the Reward reinforces it. Remove the Cue or the Reward, and the Routine tends to fall apart. This is a very helpful way to look at your own behavior. What Cues trigger Routines that you’d like to shed? What Rewards reinforce Routines you’d like to continue?

For many people, consistent exercise is one of the most-desired Routines, and also the hardest to stick with. Interestingly, author Duhigg singles out regular exercise as a “keystone habit” that has positive effects in unrelated areas, such as using credit cards less often and being more patient with family members.

However, knowing that something’s good doesn’t necessarily make it easier to do. But you know what DOES make it easier to do? Making it enjoyable! That’s the point of a Reward; it’s the REAL reason we do what we do. Some people just love how they feel during or after their workout, and that’s enough to keep them motivated year after year. For most of us, there needs to be a little more sugar in the medicine.

In fairness, I’ve been a consistent exerciser since my early teens. For the past 25 years, I’ve always done SOME kind of workout on a semi-regular basis. High-intensity, high-volume, 5×5, 10×10, Darebees, Athlean-X, Occam’s Protocol, Nautilus, weights, bands, bodyweight, you name it, I’ve done it for at least a few months. From the very beginning, I found that watching TV while exercising made it a lot more fun. When I started, that meant watching “X-Men: The Animated Series” on a black and white TV in my parents’ basement while lifting weights. Later on, I adopted “Highlander: The Series” as my workout show of choice. A variety of other programs followed. First on broadcast TV, then on VHS, then on DVD. I’ve usually exercised at home, so about the only time I didn’t have a TV show to Reward my workouts was during the few years when I had a gym membership and was stuck listening to crappy music and reading subtitles on the TVs over the treadmills.

Now that technology allows us all to watch streaming shows from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon right on our tablets or phones, there’s never been a better time to start using “The Power of Habit” to start – and stick to – a consistent workout plan. Whether you do pushups at home or hit the ellipThe secret is this: you have to find a show you want to watch, but only allow yourself to watch it when you exercise. Getting to watch the show becomes your Reward. Like a

This is actually a little trickier than you might think. A good workout-accompanying show has to be good enough to get you hooked, but not so engrossing that you can’t do a set up of pull-ups without missing anything important. For example, “The Man In The High Castle” is a fantastic show, but it requires way too much concentration!

What you find as your workout reward show depends on your taste, but here are a few of my favorites.


As long as you don’t have kids anywhere nearby, four seasons of this ultra-violent, sex & nudity-laden show set in ancient Rome should be more than enough to get you hooked on the workout habit. Riveting storylines, terrific characters, and, ahem, “revealing” performances by stars such as Manu Bennett and Katrina Law (years before they became CW stars), give this sword-and-sandal series something for everyone. And, of course, the fact that the muscle-rippling cast is on full display makes for pretty effective “fitspiration.”


This TV series is a prequel to the beloved Liam Neeson movies of the same name. Young Bryan Mills is recently retired from the military, and is acquiring his “special set of skills.” The adrenalin-pumping action sequences and likeable cast make “Taken” a great companion for any workout.


This post-apocalyptic series from 2008 is an odd mix of survivalist fantasy and Hollywood nonsense that actually works really well. The show keeps moving at a brisk pace, and the idea of being forced to fend for yourself in the wake of a major disaster is good motivation to get in shape.

This show only lasted one season, but its peppy, high-energy pace and likeable cast made it one of my favorite workout shows ever.


I’ve recently started watching this show, and have quickly gotten hooked on it. Josh Holloway (the cool guy from “Lost”) stars as a former FBI agent pressed into the service of some (ostensibly alien) overlords that have seemingly destroyed much of the world and imprisoned the remaining population in walled-off cities.

What are YOUR favorite workout-accompanying shows? Sound off in the Comments!

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