You know how sometimes a bag of mixed nuts or an easy-to-slurp smoothie can sate you until your next big meal? Snackable workouts are the sweat-it-out equivalent, and to be honest the concept is pretty genius. Even if we’re able to get those hearty workouts in at the beginning or end of the day, so many of us are sedentary for those remaining hours.
“The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) classifies a sedentary lifestyle as a health risk factor for developing heart disease,” warns Pete McCall, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and Voltaren spokesperson. “The less physical activity a person performs, the greater the risk of developing heart disease or other chronic health conditions that could significantly reduce the overall quality of life.”
Enter snackable workouts. At no more than five to 10 minutes per session, these mini workouts provide an easy way to step away from our chairs, use our bodies, and get our hearts pumping.
What Are Snackable Workouts?
“A ‘snackable workout’ is actually one of my favorite kinds of workouts,” says Mahri Relin, a certified personal trainer, and the founder and creator of Body Conceptions. “Many people believe you need at least a full 45 to 60 minutes of time in your day to devote to exercise to have a successful workout. Research has shown, however, that the amount you move in a day does not have to happen all at once.”
She explains that you can experience the same benefits if that block of exercise is broken up into smaller chunks of time. This is especially helpful for anyone who’s crunched for time or struggling to find at all (ahem, all of us).
The Benefits of Snackable Workouts
Research shows that moving throughout the day is key to our health and happiness. In a recent compelling study by Harvard Health Publishing, researchers concluded that those who sat for about three hours a day were 33 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to those who sat for seven hours a day.
This tells us that moving more all throughout the day is important; we can’t just rely on those sporadic, hour-long workouts throughout the week. There are additional benefits, too!
“Some of the benefits of adding short bursts of physical activity into your day include burning more calories throughout the day than you would with no exercise or even one long workout, increased blood circulation (which means better brain performance, a healthier heart, and healthier muscles and joints), and a better mood throughout the day,” says Nefertiti Thomas, a personal trainer and the founding instructor for Bande.
Speaking of mood, we know that the more physically active we are, the less likely we are to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed.
“Moving your body releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that create feelings of relaxation, happiness, and even euphoria,” explains Relin. “[Exercise] can also be a great way to connect with others if you choose group activities, or it can give you much-needed ‘me time’ if you need some time away from others.”
We do want to point out that these snackable workouts aren’t meant to be an alternative to longer workouts. Those are still important, too.
“There is an upside to both longer workouts and movement throughout the day,” notes Thomas. “Longer workouts are great to focus on specific muscle groups and break down muscle fibers to build strength. They’re also great to reach a target heart rate and improve stamina.”
Examples of Snackable Workouts
Snackable workouts can range from familiar exercises like jumping jacks and squats to simply walking around the block. Here are a handful of ways you can incorporate more bite-sized movement into your day.
- Taking a brisk, 10- to 20-minute walk
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking far away and walking
- Working at a standing desk for part of the day. (Check out Flexispot and Varidesk.)
- Doing wall push-ups (these can even be done in the bathroom!)
- Riding a bike to work or the grocery store instead of driving
- Taking quick classes, which can even be done on your phone. (Check out Blogilates and Bande)
- 10 minutes of dancing to your favorite songs
- 10 minutes of jump rope or hula hooping (try to teach yourself new tricks)
- You can also do combo exercises, such as:
- 20 jumping jacks, 20 reverse lunges
- 10 burpees, 10 wall push-ups, and a 1-minute plank hold
- 50 mountain climbers and 20 crunches
- 10 star jumps, 10 push-ups, and 20 squats
- 25 jumping jacks, 5 push-ups, 20 alternating lunges, and 30 seconds of bicycle twists
Our bodies are designed to be active throughout the day. Desk jobs are a relatively new development, but they are more common today than ever before. As such, we need to be cognizant of our sedentary versus moving hours and aim to move more. Not only can it help prolong our lifespan, but it can improve our quality of life both now and far into the future.