If you're working hard at finding opportunities to fit in non-exercise related activities and get in a workout too, multitasking while you exercise might be the answer. Many people like to be distracted from the actual exercise—they use TV or music to keep their mind off the difficult task—and some claim it makes them workout longer. Others say not being fully focused on the workout compromises it. (Some research suggests that using electronics impacts workouts in a negative way.)

Mike Ceja, CFT, certified fitness trainer at Lloyd Athletic Club in Portland, OR advises beginners to consult a professional first. "Before introducing distractions into your workout, practice proper movement with a trainer to get the basics conquered first," he says. Check out our most and least favorite ways to do double duty:

TV and Treadmill

  • Pros: There's no better way to while away the miles and minutes than by watching television when you're on the treadmill, elliptical trainer or other cardio machine. It's even easier if you preset your machine to an automatic program.
  • Cons: You might work too hard or not hard enough if you're distracted. Don't quit your workout early just because your show is over.

TV and Floor Exercises

Throw down your mat and hit the floor while watching your favorite movie, but stick to familiar exercises. 

  • Pros: Crunches, lunges, planks and other exercises you can do on autopilot are fine and the distraction of television might prevent you from quitting when the going gets tough.
  • Cons: Avoid new moves or ones that require you to focus on form and alignment. Distraction can lead to injury.

Talking and Walking

Go for it. This winning combination is all pros: Pick up your phone and head out the door to catch up on business calls or chat with your mother. Keep the pace brisk enough to elevate your heart rate, but not so fast that you can't carry on a conversation.  

Telephone and Squats, Lunges, and Lower Body Exercises

  • Pros: As long as you know your moves backwards and forwards, chat away.
  • Cons: If you're new to exercise however, put down the phone and concentrate on your knee-ankle alignment, the depth of your squat and other important elements of form. When you're not really paying attention to your body, you increase risks for injury.

Yoga and Music

  • Pros: This can be a natural partnership if you're careful with your song selection. The beat of the music can help guide you smoothly from one asana to the next. Keep it flowing, mellow and relaxing.
  • Cons: Avoid songs that push you through poses too abruptly or rapidly. If you're new to yoga, which coordinates breathing and proper alignment in a variety of changing and challenging poses, turn down the tunes and give it your full concentration.

Peppy Tunes and Aerobics

Perfect together. Again, all pros:  Put on your favorite jams and start dancing, running, walking, climbing stairs, vacuuming...anything.  Studies show that upbeat music can keep you exercising longer, stronger and more effectively. If you're exercising outdoors though, keep the volume low enough that you can hear what's going on around you.

The biggest pro of multitasking while exercising?

Some say it distracts them from how hard they are working. A good thing for those who quit easily or when the going gets tough. Others point to a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of efficiency. Plus, it's better than not exercising at all. 

The biggest cons? 

Lack of focus on proper form could be an issue, plus consider the benefits you reap from carving out time to do just one thing well for yourself. Exercising is good for your body and your mind. Does it really need to be justified? Not giving your full attention to the workout may glean less optimal results. Just as reading emails while driving—or putting on makeup at a red light—isn't the best idea, working on something else instead of working out may not give you the intended results.

Mike Ceja, CFP Certified Personal Trainer/Sports Therapist, reviewed this article.