Exercise Snacking: The Bite-Size Plan This MD Loves For Curbing Hunger
While we acknowledge the importance of moving your body however you can, it can be difficult to fit consistent workouts into your schedule. You've got things to do, people to see, and you might not have time to dedicate an hour or two at the gym (at-home or otherwise). If this sounds like a familiar scenario, let us introduce you to a simple hack that will transform the way you view movement: exercise snacking.
No, it doesn't mean munching on popcorn in between reps. Rather, "You could divide periods of time into tiny exercise snacks, and they're easy to do," cardiologist Steven Gundry, M.D., says on the mindbodygreen podcast.
What is exercise snacking?
When you hear the phrase "exercise snacking," you may think it has to do with nutrition—but it actually refers to small movements you can seamlessly blend into daily activities. Think of it as a bite-size workout (get it?), whereas you might consider a longer gym session the "meal."
Considering we're big fans of short spurts of movement around here, it's no surprise this fitness hack got our attention. It's a very Blue Zones way to think about exercise: Rather than dedicating an hour or two in the gym, you're consistently moving throughout the entire day, which experts say is a stellar plan for longevity.
In addition to its physical benefits, Gundry says exercise snacking can help enhance intuitive eating by curbing hunger. How? Well, he explains that exercise snacking creates a burst of energy, which then causes your body to produce hormones called myokines1: "Myokines will, No. 1, cut your appetite2, and No. 2, stimulate your mitochondria to make energy3," he says. "When most people do an exercise snack, they'll notice that their presumed hunger that was leading them to go reach for a snack went away." So exercise snacks may be able to promote more mindful eating—neat, no?
Some exercise snacks to do throughout the day.
What constitutes an exercise snack, you ask? Technically, it's any short spurt of movement you can integrate into your day.
Gundry shares some of his favorites: "When I'm brushing my teeth, I do deep knee bends, squats," he says. He also suggests doing jumping jacks when you're watching TV (or, say, listening to the mbg podcast), or walking up and down stairs for a minute. In fact, research found that brief stair climbing was a time-efficient strategy to boost fitness in a group of healthy, sedentary women.
For more exercise snack options, here are some easy minute-long moves you can incorporate into your day:
Exercise snacking offers an excellent way to incorporate movement into some of your daily activities. If you're curious about trying it, consider some of the suggestions above. You might notice that they infuse a little more energy into your day!