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Mar 18 2024

Bite-sized fitness: Exercise snacks for everyday

March 18, 2024  /   Wellness  /   5-minute read

Feeling strapped for time but still want to reap the rewards of exercise? Exercise snacks to the rescue! This simple approach to fitness breaks up physical activity into bite-sized chunks, making it easier to fit into busy schedules. But what exactly are exercise snacks, and can they really contribute to your overall fitness goals?

What is an exercise snack?

Picture your regular workout, then shrink it down to the size of a coffee break – that’s the essence of an exercise snack. These are brief bursts of physical activity, lasting from a minute up to fifteen, repeated multiple times daily.

Snack your way toward your health goals

The beauty of exercise snacking lies in its accessibility and flexibility. Here’s how it can help you reach your recommended weekly exercise goals:

  • Improve health even with short workouts: While additional research is needed, recent studies show that short bursts of exercise like a flight of stairs or some squats add up over time to provide health benefits. Exercise snacks may lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Raise metabolism: Frequent short exercise sessions can help raise your metabolism throughout the day. Your body keeps burning extra calories after exercise snacks as it recovers.
  • Burn calories: A short 5-10 minute exercise snack can burn 50-100 calories. Do a few of these every day and the calories burned quickly add up.
  • Improve mood: Exercise releases endorphins which boost mood. Taking a few minutes for an exercise snack can boost energy and mood.
  • Easy to fit into a busy schedule: Finding time for exercise can be difficult. Exercise snacks take just 5-10 minutes, so they are easy to fit into a busy workday. You can do them during a break or when you have a few free minutes.
Man doing squats in his living room in front of the couch

Choose from a menu of exercise snacks

The great thing about exercise snacks is that they’re highly versatile and require minimal equipment. Pick and choose from this menu of snacks you can easily incorporate into your day:

  • Stair climbing: Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
  • Walking: One of the simplest exercise snacks is to take a short walk. Walk around your office building, walk up and down some stairs, or walk around the block. Just 5-10 minutes of brisk walking gets your blood pumping.
  • Jumping jacks: Do a quick set of 20-30 jumping jacks during a commercial break while watching TV.
  • Squats: Perform bodyweight squats while waiting for your coffee to brew.
  • Lunges: Do lunges while walking down the hallway at work.
  • Sprint bursts: If you’re outdoors, find a safe space to do short sprints (30-60 seconds) followed by walking recovery periods.
  • Jumping rope: Grab a jump rope and jump for 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Push-ups: Even if you can’t do a full push-up, try modified versions like wall push-ups or knee push-ups.
  • Planks: Holding a plank engages your core, shoulders, arms and legs. See how long you can hold a plank, or do several short 10-30 second planks.
  • Mountain climbers: Get your heart rate up with a quick set of mountain climbers for 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Stretching: Some quick stretches loosen up tight muscles. Try some standing quad stretches, shoulder rolls, neck stretches, or a standing forward fold.

Snacks vs. traditional workouts

While exercise snacks offer many benefits, they shouldn’t be seen as a complete replacement for traditional workouts. They can, however, be a valuable strategy for boosting overall activity levels and adding to your weekly exercise goals.

Every minute counts when you strive to meet the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. Short bursts of activity — moving around vigorously for a minute or two at a time add up when done several times a day.

Exercise snacks are like healthy snacks you have between meals. They can help keep you feeling energized and satiated throughout the day, but they don’t replace the well-rounded nutrition you get from your main meals. Exercise snacks can complement your regular workout routine, providing additional activity and health benefits, but they shouldn’t entirely substitute longer planned exercise sessions.

Senior woman taking a walk during her coffee break from work

Go ahead, snack!

If motivation is a hurdle to exercise, start by finding opportunities throughout your day to sneak in a quick burst of exercise. Here are some tips:

  • Set reminders: Use your phone or a fitness tracker to remind yourself to get up and move every hour.
  • Park further away: Challenge yourself to park further away from your destination and walk the extra distance.
  • Take the active route: Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator, or choose to walk or bike for short errands instead of driving.
  • Get active during commercials: Do jumping jacks, squats, or lunges during commercial breaks while watching TV.

If you encounter any pain or discomfort while exercising, stop that activity and be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.

Remember, the magic ingredient is consistency! Little bursts of activity sprinkled throughout your day can begin to transform your health. So, go on, snack away guilt-free! Discover fun ways to keep your body in motion, and kickstart your journey to a fitter, more vibrant you!

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