The modern world keeps us perpetually busy, often sidelining our fitness goals. But imagine a world where exercise fits seamlessly into your schedule, like a snack between meetings. Introducing “Exercise Snacking,” the efficient approach to fitness for those always in a rush. Read on to discover how these short bursts of activity might be the game-changer you’ve been looking for.
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What Is Exercise Snacking?
If you thought exercise snacking was a form of snacking, you are not alone!
Exercise snacking is a method of structuring small, bite-sized bouts of workouts into your daily routine to help increase your health and fitness.
Think of it as snacking on exercise during the day by breaking your longer workouts into smaller portions.
The exercises performed as part of ‘snacking’ are safe to perform at home or work and do not require extensive warm-up, sports clothing, or equipment.
It is similar to the concept behind high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is based on short bouts of intense movement followed by a short rest period.
However, with exercise snacking, the workout lasts around two minutes with a longer or more extended rest period.
What Is An Example Of Exercise Snacking?
A few simple examples are:
- Changing your posture from sitting to standing while working (use of standing desks)
- Knee bends
- Taking the stairs
- Jogging in your place
- A brisk walk around the block in the middle of the day
Benefits Of Exercise Snacking
A lack of time is one of the most significant barriers people face in maintaining their exercise routine.
It is an excellent way to overcome this barrier and stay fit.
Though more research is required to understand how exercise snacking can benefit your health and fitness, here are a few potential ones:
- Improved cardiovascular function
- Better endurance
- Improved flexibility
- Improved muscle strength
- Reduced blood sugar levels
You must remember that occasional exercise snacking does not significantly move the needle.
Just like a regular exercise routine, exercise snacking also requires consistency.
Exercise Snacking For Weight Loss
There is a lot of excitement around this type of workout, including its potential weight loss benefits.
Carrying extra weight around the middle of the body can increase your risk for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Losing this weight can improve these parameters and reduce complications like heart disease and stroke.
Starting on a 3×5 routine every day may help in weight loss.
(5 minutes of exercise 3 times a day)
How To Exercise Snack?
While the 3×5 routine is popular, it is not a rule. You can exercise snack based on the amount of time you have:
If you have 1 to 5 minutes, here are some ways to grab your bite-sized exercise opportunity:
- Take the stairs: 20 seconds to go up and another 20 to come down. Doing this exercise one to several times a day is good for your cardiorespiratory fitness.
- Metabolism-boosting exercises: Perform squats, lunges, mountain climbers, or jumping jacks once every hour for 20 seconds. You can repeat them 7-8 times during the day. These workouts get your metabolism revved up.
- Spaced-out exercises: Do you spend long hours working at your desk or watching TV? Get up every 10 minutes and walk in place at a moderate or vigorous pace. Modified squats and burpees are good to add to this mix.
- A casual 5-minute walk: Walking after your breakfast, lunch, or dinner is known to help in weight loss and better management of blood sugar levels. Walk around your home or work as many times as you find time to do so.
If you can find slightly more time, around 5 to 7 minutes a few times during the day, here are some exercises you can try:
- Circuit 1
- Hold a plank for 30 seconds
- Knee push-ups for 30 seconds
- Squats for 30 seconds
Repeat this routine for 5 to 7 minutes
- Circuit 2
- March or jog in your place, with high knees, for 20 seconds
- Hold a plank with shoulder taps for 20 seconds
Repeat this routine for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Circuit 3
- March in your place for 60 seconds with knees and arms high
- 1 minute burpees with 60 seconds of rest in between
- Sumo squats with dumbbell for 1 minute, followed by 60 seconds of rest
- Shoulder presses with weight for one minute and 60 seconds rest after
If you can squeeze in 10 minutes of exercise, here are some exercises to include:
- Walk for 1 to 2 minutes, followed by a 30-second jog. Repeat.
- Jumping jacks for 30 seconds, then walk in place for 1 to 2 minutes
- Do a 30-second sprint on a bike followed by 1 to 2-minute cruises.
Is Exercise Snacking Better Than Regular Exercises?
Preliminary research around exercise snacking has shown that short bursts of exercises improve metabolic health, build endurance, and improve muscle health.
However, it is an adjunct to regular exercises to help you get your daily 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, especially if you are running on a tight or hectic schedule.
There is currently no proof that exercise snacking is better than regular exercise.
Everyone must get their daily dose of aerobic exercise or 150 minutes over the week to stay healthy and fit.
Are Exercise Snacks Suitable For The Elderly?
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends seniors try to exercise up to 300 minutes per week.
This amounts to around 60 minutes of exercise daily, five days a week.
The CDC recommends seniors get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week or 30 minutes per day, five days a week.
Seniors who have been sedentary for a long must take exercise snacks one bite at a time.
Doing a small chore at home, cooking a meal, or anything that gets you to move is considered an exercise snack.
Rather than focusing on a full hour of workout, seniors can start small with exercise snacks of 5 to 10 minutes and get moving.
Seniors must always check with their physician before starting any new form of workout or exercise.
5 Tips To Get Started
If you are wondering how to begin exercise snacking, here are five tips that may be useful:
- Start small and pick an activity that can be easily included in your routine.
- Spend some time on exercises that work the different joints in your body.
- Keep an alarm or reminder that will prompt you to get up from your desk at home or work to perform the exercise.
- Continue your regular exercise routine if you are consistent with one.
- Perform as many house chores as possible that come your way during the day, as they are excellent bite-sized workouts that do not require additional effort.
- Exercise snacking is structuring small, short exercises into your daily routine.
- Exercise snacking is similar to the concept behind HIIT, based on short bouts of intense movement followed by a short rest period.
- Exercise snacking may help improve cardiovascular function, endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility and reduce blood sugar levels.
- While 3×5 exercise snacking is easy to follow, you can create your exercise routine based on the amount of time you have during the day.
- Whether exercise snacking is better than regular exercise is yet to be determined.