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Snackable Exercise: The Benefits of Shorter Workouts

Whether you're carpooling kids to their afterschool activities or meeting some clients for dinner, fitting an hour-long workout into your day may seem nearly impossible. But exercise doesn’t have to happen all at once. In fact, breaking up your activity into short increments throughout the day may give you benefits that go beyond your physical health.


Let’s be honest, many of us could add more movement to the day. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in four American adults sit for more than eight hours a day – with almost half (44 percent) getting little to no physical activity each week. This does not meet the physical activity guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which suggests adults should try to fit in the following exercises each week: 

  • At least 75 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as running
  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking
  • Muscle-strengthening activities, such as weight-lifting, twice weekly

These guidelines may seem daunting and time-consuming with a demanding schedule, but the updated recommendations suggest trying to accumulate physical activity throughout the day.  According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, several short workouts throughout the day are just as effective as one long duration workout – as long as the minutes add up to 150-300 each week. 

“Multiple quick bursts of exercise will burn additional calories throughout the day, increase circulation to the brain for improved focus and clarity and provide better sleep,” said Casie Robinette, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer and Pilates instructor.  

Remember, just because you have a desk doesn’t mean you have to sit at it for eight straight hours. Try taking these little opportunities that Casie shared to get your heart rate up during the day. She suggests aiming to do the following exercises for 5 to 15 minutes about three to five times per day – mid-morning, lunch, afternoon and before or after dinner. 

Mid-morning

  • Take the stairs on your way into work: 5 minutes

Lunch

  • Do a series of lunges or modified push-ups while you wait to heat up your lunch: 5-10 minutes

Afternoon

  • Throw in some burpees or squat jumps by your desk: 5-10 minutes

Before or after dinner

  • Go for a walk outside: 15 minutes

And just like that, you reached 30-40 minutes of activity for the day.

“A body in motion wants to stay in motion and the same goes for the reverse. By missing out on the opportunities to do your snackable exercises throughout the day you can feel sluggish, tired, depressed or frustrated,” Casie said.

Remember to alternate your snackable exercises with stretching to help release the tensions from sitting during the day. 

If you need more motivation, challenge your spouse, friends, children or co-worker to see who can get the most minutes of movement in a week.