Snacking on exercise improves health and fitness

As humans, we are designed to move our bodies. Unfortunately, adults are more sedentary than ever before.

Just take a moment to consider how often you sit throughout the day.

You likely sit when you are eating, driving, at the computer, on the phone, at work, watching television, reading a book or magazine, etc. You’re likely sitting down while you’re reading this very article!

It’s important for our physical and mental health to get moving and keep moving throughout each day.

Living a sedentary lifestyle wreaks havoc on our health in many ways. It leads to a higher incidence of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, more rapid bone loss, higher chance of depression, difficulty performing daily tasks, higher BMI, loss of strength and power, increased risk of falling, to name a few.

Clearly, not moving enough causes problems.

To make things worse, most adults not only sit more frequently than we used to, but we sit for longer periods of time as well. Rather than sitting for a few minutes between longer bouts of movement, we’re often sitting for hours on end. It’s important to limit our time spent sitting by getting up and moving often all day long.

And that’s where exercise “snacks” can help.

We’re all familiar with how eating a healthy snack helps keep our energy levels high and the likelihood of getting “hangry” low. Similarly, exercise snacks help get us moving more frequently and feeling much better throughout the day.

An exercise “snack” lasts up to five minutes, and it can be almost anything as long as you get your body moving. Some examples include going up and down the stairs, stretching, foam rolling, taking a walk or doing body-weight exercises such as squats, push ups, lunges, jumping jacks, etc.

We all get busy or distracted, and it’s easy to forget to get up and move sometimes. Using an automated reminder helps us remember to snack on exercise even when we’re busy. Simply set a timer on your phone, watch, computer, Fitbit or other wearable device to go off every 30-45 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up and move your body for a few minutes. Doing this once or twice every hour can help prevent future problems.

Limiting prolonged bouts of sitting by getting up and moving every hour is important, and it can go a long way to improving our health. While these exercise snacks improve your health and fitness on their own, ideally they will supplement a more traditional exercise program rather than replace it. However, on days we don’t have the time or motivation for a full workout, snacking on exercise is the answer.

The point is, get moving and keep moving as often as you can, even if it’s just a snack!

Luke Lamb is a health and fitness specialist, certified functional strength coach, precision nutrition coach and certified personal trainer for the Jefferson City Area YMCA.

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