Exercise may be tough to fit into your daily (or even weekly) routine. But, what if you could add some tasty exercise snacks (that take mere minutes) to your day and, in the process, really ramp up your fitness level? It’s possible!
What is an Exercise Snack?
You may be wondering what on earth an “exercise snack” could be… Well, it’s not food related!
An “exercise snack” is when you do a short burst of activity (and the idea is to do multiple “snacks” throughout the day) instead of doing one long workout session. By breaking up your exercise time into small tidbits throughout the day, you can (shockingly) reap quite a few health benefits, similar to what you’d achieve with continuous longer sessions.
What is the Purpose of an Exercise Snack?
The purpose of an exercise snack is to get it in! In this fast-paced society where fitting in just about anything, let alone exercise, is a logistical nightmare, exercise snacks just might save the day. Whereas many folks don’t have an hour or two a day of uninterrupted time (or even 20 to 30 minutes) to spare on a lengthy workout, just about everyone can fit in 60 seconds of activity every hour or so.
What are the Benefits of Exercise Snacks?
While all exercise is probably beneficial in some way, short bouts of exercise pack their own special brand of punch! Research shows that short and multiple bursts of exercise dispersed throughout the day can have a powerful effect on your health.
Besides improving your cardiovascular health and helping you lose weight, you can even lower your blood sugar, boost your immune system, get stronger, and improve your circulation.
And, we already know that exercise releases endorphins that help alleviate depression and lift your mood. Add to that the quick burst in energy you’ll get and the nice stretch you’ll feel as you move and use your muscles, and these quick workouts are a snack you can’t afford to miss.
Other benefits include:
- No need to “get ready” for a gym workout; it’s “come as you are”
- Free—no fee exercise
- Convenient—no need for elaborate planning
- No driving, parking, or carpooling to get to a fitness facility
- No trainer needed
- You can be gentle on your joints
- Work around virtually any injury
- Burn excess calories
- Have fun
- Improve sleep
- Better your heart health
- Clear your head
- Make fitness a lifestyle
How to Set Up Your Exercise Snacks
It just takes five minutes! No, really… If you want to indulge in some of these tasty (and very beneficial) exercise snacks, it’s a pretty simple formula. Try to move for one to five minutes every 60 minutes. In other words, every hour, stop what you’re doing and get up for a quick exercise snack. Or, you can choose a few longer exercise snacks throughout the day. Many people enjoy a quick 10-minute walk after every meal. Others prefer to move for 10 to 15 minutes every few hours.
Some folks like to set a timer as a reminder to get up. You may want to decide to just move every hour on the hour or even find an app that sets up the pace for you. Whatever your method, aim for at least one to 15 minutes of continuous movement periodically throughout your day.
Try These Exercise Snacks
Now that you’re ready to try some exercise snacks, what can you do to get started? First, decide on the times, throughout the day, that you’re going to snack. Set a timer or an alarm to remind yourself when it’s time to indulge. Say, for one or two minutes at the top of every hour or for five to ten minutes every other hour. Lastly, choose from any one of these suggestions for a quick snack or come up with your own.
1. Run up and down the stairs—yes, you’d be surprised how quickly a few jaunts on the staircase can add up for you. It’s harder than it seems!
2. Jumping Jacks—try this old standby! Begin by standing with your arms by your sides and your feet together. Next, jump up and spread your feet out so they land about a foot apart while at the same time bringing your arms straight out to the sides and upward above your head. Your second jump will bring your feet back together and your arms back down by your sides. Do as many of these as you can in one to two minutes.
If this is a bit too jarring for your joints, you can skip the jump and just quickly step out to the sides, alternating legs. You’ll still get your heart pumping with this low-impact movement.
3. Walk the dog—your dog probably needs the exercise just as much as you do and will be thrilled to go outside for a few minutes with you, even if it is every hour or so.
4. Body-Weight Squats—start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Cross your arms in front of you to help yourself balance. Bend at the knees and push your hips backwards as you lower your body toward the floor. Pause when your thighs are parallel with the ground and return to the start by pushing up through your heels. Repeat the exercise for at least a minute.
5. Walk and Get Your 10,000 Steps—if you have a phone or a piece of wearable fitness technology, you can track your steps. Simply getting in 10,000 steps a day can propel you significantly forward in your fitness journey. Simply break your steps into smaller bite-sized chunks throughout the day.
6. Jump rope—jumping rope is no joke, and you can easily be out of breath within seconds. Start slowly and work your way up to a minute or more of non-stop jump roping.
As you can see, just about anything goes. Try doing some pushups, maybe a few lunges, or even arm circles. You can even do some simple deskersize when you’re at the office. And if all else fails, you can always go with useful activities like gardening or household chores.