What is “Exercise Snacking” and is it right for you?
What is “Exercise Snacking” and is it right for you?

When you think of snacks, what comes to mind? It’s just a small meal that you possibly have multiple times throughout the day. Well, the concept of exercise snacking is exactly that!

Exercise snacking means splitting up exercise into smaller bite-size pieces and spread it out throughout the day, rather than just focusing on exercise for a full hour at a time.

While not many studies have been done to determine its long-term efficacy and outcomes, some short-term interventions and anecdotal evidence from those who have tried it sounds promising.

However, exercise snacking is not for everyone, so in today’s blog we’ll go over some reasons to try it or not try it, depending on your goals and current exercise habits.

Exercise snacking is for you if…

You are not currently exercising regularly

The saying “something is better than nothing” is very true when it comes to exercise. When you start from 0, even 5 minutes in your day is a job well done.

Exercise snacking can therefore be a great steppingstone for developing the habit of making time to exercise more frequently or for a continuous period of time.

You have a sedentary desk job

Sitting isn’t inherently bad for you, but rather it’s sitting for long periods of time that can have an impact on your mobility and cardiovascular health.

Splitting up your activity can help your time at work pass by faster and will act as a nice break from the screen if you are someone who works in front of one all day.

You do not have 30-90 minutes/day to set aside any days of the week

Regardless of the reason, if you simply cannot find it in your days to set aside time for exercise or go to the gym because of the time commitment, then exercise snacking is for you!

Are insulin resistant

One of the very few studies done on exercise snacking was done on insulin resistant participants who were instructed to do a relatively short bout of exercise before consuming their meals and it showed some improvement for them.

Therefore, this may be something you can speak to your doctor about.

Exercise snacking is not for you if…

You have serious strength or muscle gain goals

There simply has not been any convincing evidence to suggest that exercise snacking is superior to continuous exercise especially when it comes to those with serious progress in mind.

It does suggest a good way to stay fit perhaps, however if you have your eyes set on goals like putting 100lbs on your deadlift or gaining mass, you’re likely best off setting aside 1-2 hours for your training goals.

You are an athlete and train for specificity

An athlete’s warm-ups alone take more than 10 minutes to complete, so exercise snacking doesn’t apply well. A lot of sport-specific training has to do with building and maintaining skills and is not so much focused on just elevating your heart rate.

Specific skills need to be practiced repeatedly and to become advanced you are best off not relying on exercise snacking to help you get there.

You already exercise for 30-90 minutes a day, multiple times a week

If you are already exercising regularly and intensely, adding 5 mini workouts into your day to get “extra” exercise may be a terrible idea and potentially put you at risk of injury by placing you above your personal threshold of recoverability.

This might be something to consider for off days from the gym, or for times when work and life responsibilities get in the way of your regularly scheduled exercise routine.

Way to implement exercise snacking

Is there any right or wrong way to implement exercise snacking? The short answer is, not really, so long as it’s sustainable for you and hopefully challenges you in some way.

Set an alarm multiple times a day to remind you to get up and move. Depending on how much time you can dedicate in one bout will determine how often you should get up.

Here are some sample ways to break up your workout snacks:

  • 30 minutes in the morning and then 30 minutes in the evening
  • 20 minutes, 3 times a day, morning, lunchtime and in the evening
  • 10-15 min exercise sessions 4 times a day
  • 1-5 min every few hours

We hope the idea of exercise snacking helps inspire you to never give up on your health and fitness even when life and difficulties get in the way. There is always something that can be done to make you better off today than you were yesterday.

Happy exercising!