The conventional wisdom is that if you want to get and stay in shape, you’ve got to work out several times a week for at least a half an hour at a time, preferably longer. A new trend turns that theory on its ear by suggesting that short bursts of activity called exercise snacks may be the ideal way to fit a workout into your busy schedule.
What is an Exercise Snack?
What is an exercise snack? Simply stated, it’s a short period of activity that you do multiple times throughout the day. Think of it as the fitness equivalent to a food snack – a quick bite of something to tide you over.
An exercise snack may be as short as five minutes or as long as 15 minutes. It can consist of walking, jogging in place, lifting weights, or doing yoga. The intention is to prevent the long bouts of sitting that can wreak havoc with your metabolism and blood sugar.
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Exercise Snacking?
There are some experts who believe that exercise snacking may be preferable to a longer workout session. One reason is that it’s easier to get up and work out for five minutes at a time than it may be to head to the gym and work out for an hour. Another is that it gets people moving multiple times during the day, offsetting our largely sedentary lives with bursts of activity.
Here are some of the significant benefits of exercise snacking:
- It can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories when you’re not exercising. Long periods of sitting can slow your body’s ability to burn fat.
- It can decrease your blood sugar. When you don’t get any exercise, your body can lose its ability to respond to insulin, the hormone that tells your body to use glucose as energy. Exercise bursts can reset your body’s insulin sensitivity and keep your blood sugar under control.
- Exercising multiple times in the course of a day can reduce stress and anxiety and make you more productive.
There aren’t any real risks associated with exercise snacking. However, you will need to get the right kind of exercise to reap the benefits. For example:
- You’ll need both cardio and weight resistance to reap the benefits of exercise snacking.
- A short, intense workout is better for you than a long, low-intensity workout.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to do cardio and weight training in the same session, but you should do both every day.
If you struggle to find time to get to the gym, exercise snacking might be the fitness solution you’ve been seeking. You can easily fit several 5-10 minute workouts into your routine.