Lack of time, never-ending to-do lists, full-time work, full-time parenting, commuting, poor weather, low motivation .. sounding familiar? These are some of the more common barriers to exercise we hear as exercise physiologists.
Where does your daily dose of movement fit in?
Introducing “exercise snacks”! Often the idea of exercising for long periods of time may seem unachievable and even daunting.
Exercise snacks refers to breaking up small bouts of physical activity across the week. Bouts may last as little as 20 seconds or as long as 20 to 30 minutes. The intensity, time and type of exercise is completely up to the individual depending on how you feel and what you enjoy!
How much physical activity do I need?
We know regular exercise is important for our health and the benefits of regular physical activity are clear-cut. But how much is needed? The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend a minimum of 150min/week of moderate intensity activity, or between 75-150 min of vigorous activity. Vigorous activities include huff and puff exercise such as jogging, fast walking or biking.
For weight loss goals, a minimum of 300 min/week is recommended when using exercise alone (no dietary changes). The best thing is that these minutes of physical activity can be accumulated throughout the week!
Top benefits of introducing exercise snacks into your day
- 1. Less likely to go days without movement! Often we think we need large chunks of 45 min to an hour of exercise and give exercise a miss completely if we feel we don’t have time. Any movement is better than no movement!
- 2. More energy! Finding yourself reaching for that 3rd or 4th coffee? Try a 5 min brisk walk instead, you might find this is enough to boost your energy levels to overcome that 3:30itis!
- 3. Stress reduction! One of my favourite benefits of exercise is the well-researched reduction in stress and anxiety. Short bouts of exercise have been associated with improvements in mood and productivity.
- 4. Blood sugar control and prevention of weight gain! Attention diabetics! Timing your dose of movement around meal times may help your body use blood sugar more effectively.
- 5. Improved fitness. Research shows short bursts of higher intensity exercise can be used as an effective tool to improve our cardiorespiratory fitness.
- 6. Reduced risk of injury. Often we see an “all or nothing” approach to exercise which subsequently leads to overuse injuries or flare-ups of pre-existing injuries. By breaking up exercise across the day we allow our body to adapt to the increased load, improving our ability to tackle longer sessions in the future.
- 7. Increased overall physical activity levels! Success breeds success! If you achieve 5 minutes of physical activity, the feelings of accomplishment will likely encourage you to stick at it. You may even find your 5 minute snack turns into a 20 minute meal! (of exercise that is)
Template exercise snacks
The best exercise is the exercise you will stick to. Find what you enjoy and find ways of incorporating it into your day, even if it is only 3 minutes! Aim to include exercise snacks such as these 3-4 times a day for optimal health benefits.
- Aerobic focus: 5 min of walking/bike at desired pace.
- Strength focus: 1-3 sets of each exercise
- 10 bodyweight squats
- 10 bench push-ups
- 10 dead-bugs
- 10 lunges
- Flexibility focus: 30 seconds hold
- Hip flexor stretch (lunge)
- Calf stretch against wall
- Chest stretch against a doorway
- All-round focus: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
- Jogging on the spot
- Sit to stands
- Bench push-ups
- High knees (slow or fast)
- Side bending stretch
Motion is lotion! Like anything in life, the more you do something the better you will get at it. Including exercise into your daily routine will become easier the more you do it. Find little pockets of time here and there and you will be well on your way to meeting the recommended
guidelines and achieving your optimal health and wellbeing. Longer duration exercise bouts are certainly beneficial and encouraged, particularly for those with weight loss and strength goals. Seeing an accredited exercise physiologist is recommended to ensure you are targeting your exercise plan specific to your goals and needs.
For more information on exercise snacks you can contact the us via email or call the clinic on 5264 6098 to make an appointment.