Exercise Snacking: The Easy And Convenient Way To Get Fit For Those Who Hate The Gym

If the thought of a HIIT workout or bootcamp style exercise class gives you a cold shiver, you might be interested in ‘exercise snacking’, the new phenomenon that’s winning the approval of health and fitness experts for its convenient and accessible approach to getting fit. 

Despite its name, exercise snacking isn’t anything to do with actual snacking (although, that would be fantastic, wouldn’t it?). In fact, it’s all about doing little, bitesize bouts of exercise scattered throughout the day to achieve the same benefits (or better) than of a longer, more intense workout performed in one session.

The research, which was led by Dr Marie Murphy of Ulster University, followed 21 participants through one of two randomly assigned exercise programs (the first was a short-bout exercise program of three, brisk 10-minute walks throughout the day, and the other was a long-bout exercise program of one brisk 30-minute walk per day) and compared the effects on overall fitness, risks for heart disease and mental health between the two groups. 

Their findings showed that not only were there no reduced benefits of the short-bout exercise program, but participants in the shout-bout group actually showed slightly greater benefits in some areas. In other words, little bouts of exercise scattered throughout the day could be better for you than hitting the gym every so often. 

Participants from both groups showed lower levels of cholesterol as a result of their exercise regimes as well as decreased anxiety and tension. Participants who were exercise snacking showed a greater increase in VO2max (a measure of how your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and muscles work all working independently and together) than the group who were doing one, 30-minute walk every day. 

Aside from the benefits shown in the study, exercise snacking is supremely convenient and able to be slotted into even the busiest lifestyle, meaning we’re probably more likely to stick to it. We all know the feeling of dread before a long workout class, as well as how easy it is to make an excuse to avoid the gym.  With exercise snacking, all you have to do is something that gets your heart rate up a bit for a minute or so – it doesn’t even have to be the full 10 minutes as in Dr Murphy’s study, so long as all the separate bouts add up to 30 minutes per day. You could walk a little faster between appointments, get off the bus one stop earlier and power walk the rest of the route, take the stairs instead of the lift, or do a few star jumps at lunch – it would all count as an exercise snack and get you closer to achieving your daily quota. 

Exercise snacking is also more affordable than an expensive workout class or gym membership that also requires special gear or clothing. It can be done anywhere and simply involves doing just enough to get your heart going and feel a little warm or flushed in the face, but not enough to leave you drenched in sweat and in need of a shower and outfit change. 

Achieving 30-minutes per day of moderate exercise would able us to reach the recommended amount of two and a half hours per week, which has been shown to have a hugely postitive impact on our health. It’s important to find a routine that works for your lifestyle – for more ideas, check out these fitness apps for at-home exercise, as well as the best pilates stretches to relieve neck and back pain after 16 months at our DIY desks to get yourself moving again. 

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