When you hear the words “workout snack,” you might think of a smoothie, a piece of fruit, a hard-boiled egg, or a protein bar.

But the idea of ​​a workout snack isn’t about what you eat before or after a workout. It’s a way to get closer to the recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week by doing short bursts of high-intensity exercise – moving vigorously for a minute or two at a time.

“We live a sedentary life. We have a lot of office work. We sit a lot more,” says exercise physiologist Katie Lawton, MEd. “Exercise snacks act as a reminder to just get up and move every once in a while.”

For those of us who struggle to find 30 minutes or more to exercise each day, exercise snacks throughout the day can help you better achieve your wellness and fitness goals. A quick, easy workout can add some sustainable health benefits comparable to traditional exercise.

Lawton explains the concept behind exercise snacks, examples of what you can do, and how exercise snacks can benefit you.

What are workout snacks?

An exercise snack is defined as a short period of vigorous activity or movement that usually lasts no longer than two minutes. And it’s something you can and should do at various points in your daily life.

The concept of these short bursts of intense movement is similar to high intensity interval training (HIIT), which is based on the idea of ​​working your body for a short period of time and then resting for a short period of time. and then repeat the movement. But with a workout snack, the workout, or movement, takes about two minutes, with longer rest periods of an hour or more in between.

Did the meeting end early? Great. Use that extra time to exercise – think walking up the stairs for two minutes.

“Shape your workout around your day,” suggests Lawton. “The idea of ​​a workout snack can easily fit into your life, no matter how busy or stressed you are. It’s a very short time commitment.”

Benefits of exercise snacks

While more research is needed to fully understand how exercise snacks can benefit your health, recent studies show that the benefits of exercise snacks can include:

  • Improved cardiovascular function.
  • Increased endurance.
  • Improved flexibility.
  • Improved muscle strength.
  • Lowered blood sugar levels.

But indulging in the occasional gym snack won’t do much to improve your health.

“The biggest aspect of exercise snacking is consistency, making sure you’re doing it daily and exercising daily, rather than doing one day here and maybe one day the next week,” says Lawton.

“It won’t make much of an impact if you’re just doing it when you remember.” If you can exercise and snack consistently over a month or two, I think you’re going to see an effect.”

So, how often should you practice snacking?

“Studies show that three times a day, seven days a week, can improve your cardiovascular health,” adds Lawton. “You want to break up the sedentary time you spend sitting or working at a desk, which can be bad for your health.”

In fact, studies have shown that sitting too much – or sitting for hours at a time – can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and obesity.

Example of a workout snack

Another good reason to try a workout snack? You don’t need to go to the gym or sign up for a class—and there’s no need for special exercise equipment like weights, kettlebells, or resistance bands.

Some examples of exercise snacks are:

  • Staircases
  • Sprelli men.
  • Jump rope.
  • Chair bends.
  • Lunges.
  • Sprints.
  • Push ups.
  • Mountain climbers.

The workout snack options are endless—any type of exercise or movement that gets you out of your seat and moving works. And make sure you do these activities vigorously – meaning it’s hard for you to say more than the few words needed to catch your breath.

“Before vigorous exercise or any type of cardiovascular exercise, you want to do a quick warm-up and get your heart up a bit,” advises Lawton. “You don’t want to go from a sitting position to going all the way up and down stairs.

Lawton says that if you have a heart condition like arrhythmia or coronary artery disease, or even any orthopedic problem, you should first discuss exercise snacking with a health care provider.

But overall, the idea of ​​exercise snacks can be beneficial and help you reach your fitness goals or even just give you a mid-day energy boost.

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