Skip to main content

Are you chained to your desk for most of the day? Do you find it hard to squeeze in a workout amidst your busy schedule? Well, there’s good news! Recent research in Sports Medicine suggests that even short bursts of activity, now being coined as “exercise snacks,” can significantly reduce the health risks associated with prolonged sitting.

Exercise snacks are short, intermittent bursts of physical activity spread throughout the day. These “snacks” involve brief periods of movement, often (although not always) intense and typically lasting just a few minutes. They can be easily incorporated into daily routines. Examples include, a close to maximal effort plank, a brief walk, performing a maximal number of star jumps in 60 seconds, running up a flight of stairs, alternating between fast sets of squats and push ups for 2-3 minutes without rest. 

In a recent meta-analysis of 32 studies involving physically inactive but otherwise healthy adults, researchers discovered that incorporating these small bouts of movement throughout the day could yield meaningful health benefits. 

Lead author Matthew Jones, Ph.D., emphasizes the accessibility and safety of these exercise snacks, noting that they provide a feasible way for individuals looking to increase their physical activity levels, particularly those who struggle with traditional, continuous exercise.

But what exactly are the benefits? Well, apart from breaking the monotony of sedentary behavior, these snippets of activity have been shown to improve various health outcomes, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers and enhancing metabolic processes. Furthermore, studies have highlighted the efficacy of exercise snacks across a range of movement types, making them highly accessible and leaving plenty of room for creativity. 

However, it’s essential to acknowledge the limitations of current research. While the findings are promising, they primarily focus on sedentary individuals. For those already meeting recommended activity levels or performing regular training, the additional benefits may be modest.

That said, exercise snacks can still complement existing workout routines, especially for individuals with constrained schedules or those lacking access to traditional exercise facilities. Whether you’re stuck in meetings or have a back to back schedule, there are ample opportunities to sneak in some physical activity and break up prolonged periods of sitting. Regardless of your levels of fitness, this is good news and worth experimenting with. 

So, how can you incorporate exercise snacks into your daily routine? Here are some actionable takeaways:

  • Move Regularly: Break up long periods of sitting with short bursts of activity. Aim to move every 30 minutes or so, even if it’s just a quick stretch or a brief walk around the office.
  • Make It Convenient: Identify opportunities for movement throughout your day. Whether it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator, performing a plank whilst reading, or doing squats during phone calls, find creative ways to stay active.
  • Mix It Up: Incorporate a variety of exercises to target different muscle groups and keep things interesting. From bodyweight exercises to simple stretches, there’s no shortage of options for exercise snacks.
  • Stay Consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to reaping the benefits of exercise snacks. Set realistic goals and make it a habit to incorporate movement into your daily routine. Perhaps start with a simple target of performing one snack mid morning and one snack mid afternoon

Stay active, stay healthy!

Leave a Reply