Medical Moment: ‘Movement snacks’ and how they might benefit health

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Experts recommend two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week to stay healthy, but squeezing in activities can be tough.

Now research shows, you make not need a full workout to get all the health benefits of one.

Work, family, chores. After a long day, the last thing on your mind might be exercise. But studies have long shown exercise improves your brain health, helps manage weight, reduces the risk of disease, and strengthens bones and muscles. The goal is to get 150 minutes of exercise per week. But with busy schedules...

“Squeezing in anything is better than nothing at all,” said Jenn Lea, a performance coach at Human Performance Institute.

Recent studies found that “movement snacks,” or an exercise workout lasting minutes or even seconds, can be an effective workout.

“It can be as little as 30 seconds sprinting up a flight of stairs or it could be as long as 10 minutes walking around your block,” Lea explained.

In a Canadian study, researchers had people race up three flights of stairs three times a day, which took about 20 seconds. After six weeks, the participants had increased their aerobic fitness by about five percent. Another study at the University of Texas in Austin found four seconds of intense intervals, repeated until they amount to a total minute of exertion, led to rapid improvements in strength and fitness in middle-aged and older adults. Some ways to incorporate movement snacks include starting the day out with a morning stretch, taking a walk during your lunch break, or taking a break during the day to do 30 to 60 seconds of squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, or sit-ups.

Other studies found these movement snacks can lead to better sleep, increased longevity, and clearer thinking, learning, and judgement.