A New Kind of Snack

You just finished your 6am spin class. You’re glistening. You refuel with a high-protein, flaxseed, green smoothie. You feel healthy and ready to take on the day. Your body is a temple. And then you sit

You sit in traffic on your way to work, you sit in front of the computer at work, you sit to eat lunch, you sit in traffic on your way home, you sit to eat dinner, and then you sit on the couch to scroll through insta stories or watch TV.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Most Americans sit for 6 to 8 hours a day.1 This amount of sedentary behavior can be problematic for our health, even if we exercise regularly or have a healthy weight.2-4

Bummer, but wait I thought you were talking about snacks?

Yes, yes, this is where the snack comes in. Exercise “snacking” that is. It’s a growing health trend that breaks up exercise into short bouts, or “snacks,” spread throughout the day. The idea is that quick bursts of strenuous activity can increase your heart rate and, over time, improve your cardiorespiratory health.

A recent study looked into this.5 The study specifically investigated the effects of exercise snacks on aerobic fitness. Researchers randomly assigned a group of young, inactive adults into a training group or a non-training control group. The training group briskly climbed 3 flights of stairs, 3 times a day, for 3 days a week. After just 6 weeks, the training group had significantly higher peak oxygen uptake and peak power output than the control group. Although the study was small, the results are promising and encourage future research on the benefits of small bouts of exercise.

Cool, cool, cool, so what does this mean for me?

Exercise snacks can improve your cardiovascular health in less than 2 months! Whether you’re a religious exerciser or just trying to hit your daily steps, these snacks can be healthy addition to your daily routine.

Help me out. Give me some snack ideas.

Here are some exercise snacks that offer a quick, free, and convenient way to improve your aerobic fitness and overall health:

  • Climb 3 flights of stairs as fast as you can, 3 times a day (just like the study)
  • Set an alarm to do 30 squats/lunges/push-ups/high knees/jumping jacks, 3 times a day 
  • Channel your inner Phoebe, and add 30-second quick bursts of running/jumping when walking with your friends, kids, or dog

Have your own idea or personal tip that keeps you moving? Leave a comment below!

Cheers friends! Happy snacking.

~ Megan


References

  1. Ussery, E. N., Fulton, J. E., Galuska, D. A., Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Carlson, S. A. (2018). Joint Prevalence of Sitting Time and Leisure-Time Physical Activity Among US Adults, 2015-2016. JAMA, 320(19), 2036-2038. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.17797
  2. Panahi, S., & Tremblay, A. (2018). Sedentariness and Health: Is Sedentary Behavior More Than Just Physical Inactivity? Frontiers in public health6, 258. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00258
  3. Després, J.-P. (2016). Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviours, and Cardiovascular Health: When Will Cardiorespiratory Fitness Become a Vital Sign? Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 32(4), 505-513. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2015.12.006
  4. Mainous, A. G., 3rd, Tanner, R. J., Rahmanian, K. P., Jo, A., & Carek, P. J. (2019). Effect of Sedentary Lifestyle on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among Healthy Adults With Body Mass Indexes 18.5 to 29.9 kg/m(2). Am J Cardiol, 123(5), 764-768. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.11.043
  5. Jenkins, E. M., Nairn, L. N., Skelly, L. E., Little, J. P., & Gibala, M. J. (2019). Do stair climbing exercise “snacks” improve cardiorespiratory fitness? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 44(6), 681-684. doi:10.1139/apnm-2018-0675

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