Taking a beautiful exercise snack (a short 2,000 step walk) in gorgeous Lakes Park in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II
Everyone will read the title and think I am talking about a healthy snack you can have before or after exercise, or mindful snacking throughout the day.
Both are great ideas but neither are true.
What I am talking about is your ability to use exercises just like you would a snack.
Throughout the day, if a rumble emerges in your belly you may reach down for a small apple or a handful of nuts. You can use exercise the same way and insert bits of exercise throughout the day – even if you already go to the gym 5x/week.
Exercise more through snacking?
The human body was meant to move and a majority of age related decline can be traced back to a root cause - sedentariness.
Throughout a busy day we are not as active as we were fifty or even a hundred years ago, but we are still consuming on average more calories. We combat this by joining the gym, doing 30-60mins of exercise 3-5 times per week and eating a healthy diet.
However, just like a healthy snack between meals, we can be smart about how we move throughout the day too.
Those in the fitness industry have known for a while that NEPA (non-exercise physical activity – the amount of activity you do outside of the gym) – is equally important to your overall fitness, health and caloric expenditure.
This is where the idea of exercise snacking comes into play, by increasing your non-gym activity you can drastically improve your health markers.
I recently got off a flight and watched as my fellow passengers jumped out of their seats to stand after a long flight.
However, as we deplaned and were making our way to baggage claim, these same (healthy able-bodied) passengers passed on the stairs first chance they got for the escalators, and moving sidewalks.
I took pause to think if I would take the escalator or stairs and I choose the stairs, I have never used the escalator (even after a 36 hr flight from a race on the other side of the world).
If we are mindful of our choices, we can use these little short bursts of activity to our advantage.
Studies on stair climbing showed that it quickly improves cardiorespiratory fitness, reduces arterial stiffness and lowers resting blood pressure as well as improves leg strength.
One study even showed that living in a two-story house helps the average person live longer, good news for my husband!
Exercise snacking isn’t limited to just climbing stairs though. It can include squats in the kitchen while meal prepping or pushups in front of the TV while you are streaming your favorite show.
These snacks can be done at work, simply by walking a few laps of the office while reading your next set of board papers or having a walking meeting with your team about an upcoming project.
Exercise snacks will help improve fitness, health and overall wellbeing of the body.
So, next time you’re waiting for the elevator, how about you have yourself a little snack and take the stairs instead?
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