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No time for the gym? Try ‘exercise snacks’


No time for the gym? Try ‘exercise snacks’

Can’t seem to find time for the gym? Short bursts of exercise several times a day can do a body good – gym clothes, dumbbells and treadmill not required.
Studies show that short bursts of exercise— called exercise snacks — can help improve metabolic health, boost endurance and help prevent muscle loss.
“Some studies have shown they can increase cardiovascular and muscular fitness with an additional benefit of breaking up long periods of inactivity,” says Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Roxanne Latimer, who offers care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Murrells Inlet. “Bursts of exercise as short as a minute or two that are vigorous enough to raise your heart rate and force you to breathe hard are most effective.”


Some potential benefits of exercise snacks:

  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Increased endurance
  • Improved metabolic health
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved muscle strength
  • Reduced blood sugar levels
  • Improved cholesterol levels

For optimum results, exercise snacks should take place for several minutes at least three times a day – some experts suggest every 30 minutes. Consistency is key.
“Generally, it involves an activity that causes contraction of several muscle groups,” Dr. Latimer says.

Lots of options

Examples of exercise snacking can include:

  • Climbing stairs
  • Chair squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Running in place
  • Push ups
  • Wall sits
  • Lunges
  • Jumping rope

Dr. Latimer says snacking on exercise several times a day is especially practical for people who work in an office. Get started by figuring out which types of exercise fit your preference and schedule.

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“Besides the cardiovascular and muscular benefits, it can invigorate you, especially if your job requires prolonged sitting,” Dr. Latimer adds. “There is very little barrier to performing it, and it may be as beneficial as one prolonged daily workout. It can be done almost anywhere and any time.”


One study found that a group of college-aged students who snacked on exercise by walking stairs three times per day for six weeks improved aerobic fitness and leg strength. Another group rode stationary bikes in a lab for 10 minutes once per day for six weeks while others visited the lab every few hours for one minute of pedaling. Research showed comparable fitness results for both groups, suggesting that snacking on exercise can be as effective as longer workouts.

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