Have you ever skipped a workout because you couldn’t dedicate 30-60 minutes at a time to fit it in? Blocking off an hour at a time can be difficult when you’re juggling work, family and life commitments. What if you could get similar results by completing brief spurts spread throughout the day?
What is Exercise Snacking?
Introducing: exercise snacks. Everyone likes snacks, right? They’re a yummy yet small taste of the full thing but designed in smaller portions to consume on the go. Exercise snacking is the same concept — short bursts of vigorous intensity exercise, ranging anywhere from under a minute to up to about 10 minutes at a time.
Vigorous intensity is movement that accelerates your heart rate and is challenging enough that you can only speak a few words while you are moving. If you can carry on a conversation, pick up the intensity!
How do you do it?
Exercise snacks are also a great way to break up a long and sedentary workday. For example, every hour, take a break and do 10 push-ups, 10 burpees or 10 squats. Schedule a mid-morning break and crank out
5-10 minutes of intense activity. It will get the heart pumping, the blood flowing and the creativity sparking!
Sound too good to be true? Multiple research studies have found promising benefits to these healthy snacks. A recent study performed in the UK measured participants’ VILPA (vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity). Healthline reports that participants “who engaged in three bouts of activity per day lasting about 1 or 2 minutes each, had a 38%-40% reduction in all-cause and cancer mortality risk as well as a 48%-49% reduction in risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.”
Another study published in 2019 in the Journal of Physiology reports that workouts lasting less than 15 minutes (including a warm-up, cool-down and 5 minutes or less of vigorous exercise) were effective in improving heart and lung function, as well as controlling blood sugar. Another UK study comparing walkers who completed three 10-minute brisk walks per day with another group who completed one brisk 30-minute walk perday found similar benefits for both groups, with the shorter interval group having slightly better outcomes for cholesterol and body mass.
With that, you can no longer claim you don’t have time to exercise. You just have to make it!
If you are already on a great workout routine, keep up the good work and consider adding a couple of exercise snacks into your day for a little burst of intensity. If you are new to exercise, try adding one to two exercise snacks per day and gradually increase the number or duration of your snacks. Maybe this is making a sprint to the bathroom, doing 15 jumping jacks between meetings, or push-ups during a commercial break. Have a dance party with your family or chase your dog around the yard. Every little bit matters. So, get out there and get snacking!