Exercise Snacks May Be Better Than Prolonged Exercise

In today’s fast-paced world, finding time for a traditional workout routine can be challenging. Between work, family commitments, and other responsibilities, the idea of setting aside a dedicated block of time for exercise can seem daunting.

However, emerging research suggests that incorporating “exercise snacks” into your daily routine could be the key to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

A study at the University of Utah examined the effects of interrupting prolonged sitting with brief, light-intensity walking breaks. Participants were instructed to walk on a treadmill for 2 minutes every 30 minutes throughout an 8-hour sitting period.

The study found that this intermittent walking pattern helped offset some of the negative metabolic effects of prolonged sitting, such as decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

Some scientists have suggested that the 32 minutes of accumulated walking throughout an 8-hour period may be more beneficial than 32 minutes completed all at once. Regular movement appears to be more beneficial to our mitochondrial function, muscles, circulation, fascia, and metabolism compared to sustained exercise and then sitting the rest of the day. 

What Are Exercise Snacks?

Unlike traditional workouts that require a dedicated chunk of time, exercise snacks are short bursts of physical activity that you can sprinkle throughout your day.

The idea is to accumulate small amounts of exercise over the course of the day, rather than trying to squeeze in a single and lengthy session.

Benefits Of Exercise Snacks Are Significant

Help break up long periods of sitting – which has been linked to various health risks.

Boost energy levels

Improve mood

Enhance overall well-being

Significant impact on health markers such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol

Incorporate Exercise Snacks Into Your Daily Routine

The possibilities are endless, and the key is to find activities that you enjoy and that can easily fit into your schedule.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Take the Stairs

Instead of waiting for the elevator or using the escalator, opt for the stairs whenever possible. Challenge yourself to take the stairs multiple times throughout the day, whether it’s at work, at home, or out and about in your neighborhood.


Incorporate simple exercises into your workday to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. Try doing air squats, lunges, desk pushups or calf raises while on conference calls, or use resistance bands to sneak in some arm and shoulder exercises at your desk. Set a timer and get up and do 1 set of every 30-60 minutes of a variety of exercises throughout the day. 

Walk Breaks

Set a timer to remind yourself to take short walk breaks throughout the day. Aim to get up and move for at least 2 minutes every 30 minutes, whether it’s a brisk lap around the office, a stroll around the block, or a quick walk up and down the hallway. Another good habit to focus on is taking a short walk after each meal to help with metabolizing food. 

Desk Treadmill

You can purchase a treadmill pad for under your standing desk for under $200 that allows you to walk at a very slow pace, like 1mph, while working. Studies have demonstrated significant benefits to caloric output, weight loss and overall health with walking while working. 

Household Chores

Understand that vacuuming, gardening, or cleaning can be considered exercise!

Movement Breaks

Turn everyday tasks into opportunities for movement. Use commercial breaks during your favorite TV show or breaks during cooking to do a quick set of planks or tricep dips. 


If you have kids or pets, take advantage of playtime as a chance to get moving. Whether it’s playing tag, kicking around a soccer ball, tossing the ball, or going for a family walk around the neighborhood, make physical activity a fun and integral part of your time together.

Incorporating exercise snacks into your daily routine doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. By making small, consistent efforts to move more throughout the day, you can reap big rewards for your health and well-being. So, seize every opportunity to sneak in a little bit of exercise, and watch as those small efforts add up to big benefits over time.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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