“Excercise Snacks”

What are “exercise snacks“? Exercise snacks are short bouts of exercise with the intention to interrupt periods of sedentary time. 

When we think about the benefits of exercising, we tend to think that we have to exercise for hours a week or an overwhelmingly long, boring, and exhausting session, or too much for the scarce time we have or energy that is left after a day of work. But… what if there is a simpler way to still reap some benefits without spending as much time, nor long periods of huffing and puffing? Sounds good? Well, good news, because there is! 

Studies have shown that when time is scarce or even for those that do not enjoy exercise much, introducing short breaks of movement such as 3 sets of 20 seconds per sedentary hour spent or 5 minutes for every 3 to 4 sedentary hours, can bring some interesting health benefits, in addition to helping you feel more energized and sharper along the day. 

Even better, these exercise snacks don’t need to be particular exercises but bouts of movement enough to break the sedentary time; you could plan 5 minute breaks for house chores such as vigorously vacuuming, mopping, cleaning, gardening, mowing the lawn, or anything that can give you a quick heart rate increase before you go back to sedentary time. And if you can’t do chores in between, you can always plan a few running/walking up and down the stairs, air squats, desk pushups, jumping jacks, dancing, a few burpees, jump roping (even the invisible one), or again, anything you can do for a quick break. Don’t forget to hydrate properly and breathe. 


“We define exercise snacks as isolated ≤1-min bouts of vigorous exercise performed periodically throughout the day. We hypothesize that exercise snacks are a feasible, well-tolerated, and time-efficient approach to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and reduce the negative impact of sedentary behavior on cardiometabolic health. Efficacy has been demonstrated in small proof-of-concept studies. Additional research should investigate this novel physical activity strategy.”

DOI: 10.1249/JES.0000000000000275

“Higher sedentary time is associated with higher mortality in less active individuals when measured by accelerometry. About 30–40 min of MVPA per day attenuate the association between sedentary time and risk of death, which is lower than previous estimates from self-reported data.”
DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103270

“Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.”
DOI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25599350/

“This study demonstrates an increasing risk of disease and mortality with increasing total sitting time and TV viewing time. It also revealed a threshold of 6–8 h/day of total sitting and 3–4 h/day of TV viewing, above which risk for several important health outcomes increased more rapidly. This suggests that sedentary behaviour guidelines may need further quantification of sitting time volumes that should be avoided, although for some outcomes such as T2D, any sitting time reductions would be beneficial. With 8% of all mortality and 29% of T2D in the English population associated with certain sedentary behaviours, there is great potential for substantial public health benefits. Improvements in the measurement of sedentary time and a better understanding of its confounding structure are therefore essential to improving future public health and clinical guidelines.”
DOI: 10.1007/s10654-018-0380-1

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