Trouble getting in your workouts consistently but want to move more? Movement snacks may be the answer.
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What are movement snacks?
The name of the game is often to stay in the game. Movement snacks provide an easy and actionable way to help you do this.
They are short, quick bouts of physical activity or exercise that you can incorporate into your daily routine. These “snacks” are typically brief, lasting just a few minutes or reps, and are designed to get you moving when you normally may think it impossible.
The concept of them is rooted in the idea that even short bursts of activity can contribute to overall fitness and well-being, and they can be particularly helpful for individuals with busy schedules or those who may have limited time for longer exercise sessions.
“I just need to be consistent.” is something I hear often. Movement snacks help you stay consistent with exercise even with the busiest of schedules.
Tip: If you have a hard time finding time to get full workouts or movement snacks in. Make sure you’re scheduling them. Pick specific days and times and build the rest of your day around that. If it’s not in your schedule it doesn’t exist.
What are some examples of them?
The possibilities here are endless.
Desk Stretches: While working at your desk or sitting for extended periods, you can take a minute or two to stretch your neck, shoulders, back, and legs. Simple stretches like neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and leg extensions can help alleviate tension and reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
Take the stairs: If you have access to stairs, take a short break to climb a few flights. This provides a quick cardiovascular workout and strengthens your leg muscles.
Mini Workouts: Perform quick, easy-to-do exercises like walking/marching, squats, push-up variations, and lunges for a few reps. A few examples come later in the article that you can do with bodyweight or dumbbells.
Walk Breaks: Instead of staying seated during your breaks, take a brisk walk around your workplace or outside. It’s a simple way to get your blood flowing and improve your mood and energy levels. Habit stack by walking after each meal (even if it’s just a few minutes).
Yoga or Mobility Breaks: Incorporate brief yoga poses or mobility exercises to improve flexibility and reduce stress. Even if it’s just one pose.
Breathing Exercises: Not really a movement snack but more a “de-stressing snack.” A few minutes of mindful breathing can help reduce stress and increase focus and energy.
When done throughout your day can improve your overall health, increase energy levels, and enhance your productivity. Most importantly they help you take action, stay consistent, and do something rather than nothing.
They’re a convenient and effective way to maintain your physical and mental well-being, even when you have a busy schedule.
What are the benefits of them?
There are tons of benefits that movement snacks have to offer for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Increased Energy: Short bursts of physical activity can boost your energy levels. When you’re feeling tired or sluggish, a quick movement snack can help reinvigorate you and improve alertness.
Enhanced Mood: Exercise, even in small doses, triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Movement snacks can help reduce stress and anxiety, making you feel happier and more relaxed.
Improved Focus and Productivity: Taking breaks for movement snacks can enhance your cognitive function and productivity. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, helping you concentrate and think more clearly.
Better Physical Health: Regularly incorporating movement snacks can contribute to improved physical fitness. Even short bursts of exercise can help with weight management, cardiovascular health, and muscle strength.
Reduced Sedentary Time: Movement snacks break up prolonged periods of sitting and lack of movement, which is associated with various health issues, including obesity, heart disease, and poor posture. Reducing sedentary time can mitigate these risks.
Enhanced Flexibility and Mobility: Incorporating stretches or mobility exercises into your movement snacks can help improve flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and relieve muscle tension.
Quick Stress Relief: When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a movement snack can provide quick and effective stress relief. Exercise has been shown to reduce the body’s stress response.
Convenience: Movement snacks are easy to fit into your daily routine, as they require minimal time and no special equipment. You can perform them at home, in the workplace, or outdoors.
Encourages Consistency: The brevity of movement snacks makes them more achievable and encourages consistency. People are more likely to stick with a habit of short, frequent activity compared to longer, less frequent workouts.
Movement snacks may not replace the need for longer more structured workouts, but they complement a healthy, active lifestyle. The biggest benefit may be the psychological benefits of taking action when you normally would consider it impossible.
What are the disadvantages of them?
While movement snacks offer numerous benefits, there are some potential disadvantages or limitations to consider:
Limited Intensity: Movement snacks are typically short and low in intensity. While they provide a quick energy boost and promote better overall health, they may not be sufficient for individuals seeking significant gains in strength, endurance, or cardiovascular fitness. For those goals, longer, more intense workouts are necessary.
Not a Complete Replacement for Regular Exercise: Movement snacks should not replace traditional exercise routines. They are meant to supplement your overall activity level, but a comprehensive fitness regimen should include more extended, structured workouts.
Lack of Structure: Movement snacks are often spontaneous and may not follow a structured workout plan. This can make it challenging to target specific fitness goals or muscle groups. However, there are ways to add structure to your movement snacks but creating movement snack routines (more on this alter).
Variability in Effectiveness: The effectiveness of movement snacks can vary depending on the individual, their fitness level, and the types of activities chosen. Not all movement snacks will yield the same benefits for everyone.
Despite these potential disadvantages, movement snacks remain a valuable tool for improving overall health and well-being, especially for those with busy schedules or those looking to break up long periods of inactivity.
To overcome some of these limitations, it’s a good idea to combine movement snacks with a well-rounded fitness program that includes regular exercise sessions that address specific fitness goals and needs.
Can they be effective?
Yup, movement snacks can be highly effective for various purposes, especially when used as part of a broader approach to physical activity and wellness. Their effectiveness depends on your goals and how you incorporate them into your daily routine.
A few scenarios in which movement snacks can be particularly effective:
Energy Boost: If you’re looking to increase your energy levels and alertness throughout the day, movement snacks can be a quick and effective solution. Short bursts of activity can help combat feelings of fatigue and improve focus.
Stress Reduction: Movement snacks can provide immediate stress relief. Even brief physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which are natural mood elevators. This can help you manage stress and anxiety.
Reducing Sedentary Time: Movement snacks are an excellent way to break up prolonged periods of sitting, which has been linked to various health risks. They are an effective strategy to counteract the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Consistency: The brevity and simplicity of movement snacks make them more accessible and achievable. Consistency in physical activity is crucial for maintaining overall health, and movement snacks can help people stay active throughout the day.
Flexibility and Mobility: Incorporating stretching and mobility exercises into movement snacks can lead to improved flexibility and reduced muscle tension. This is especially beneficial for individuals with desk jobs or sedentary lifestyles.
Quick Workouts: For individuals with time constraints or busy schedules, movement snacks can be an efficient way to squeeze in exercise when longer workouts are not feasible. They can help you maintain your fitness level and overall health.
Mental Health: Movement snacks can provide immediate mental health benefits. The release of endorphins during short bursts of activity can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Breaking Down Barriers: Some people find traditional exercise intimidating or unenjoyable. Movement snacks offer a lower barrier to entry and can be a gateway to developing a more active lifestyle.
Social Connection: Movement snacks can be a social activity when done with friends or colleagues, promoting camaraderie and teamwork.
What are 5 basic exercises you could do for movement snacks?
Keeping this simple is important focusing on movements that offer the biggest bang for their buck is important.
5 basic exercises to focus on for your movements snacks could be:
- Glute bridges
- Walking/marching in place/jumping jacks/step jacks
To expand on this list we can break it up into different movement patterns
Lower body movement snacks:
- Glute bridges
Upper body pressing movement snacks:
- Dumbbell chest presses
- Dumbbell overhead presses
Upper body pulling movement snacks:
- Bodyweight rows
- Dumbbell rows
- Hollow holds
- Jumping jacks/step jacks
These exercises can be performed as standalone movement snacks, or you can combine them into a short, full-body circuit.
Ultimately, any exercise could become a movement snack. You could swing a kettlebell 10 times. If you have a barbell set up you could do 5 barbell squats as a snack too.
What is an example movement snacks routine?
This routine is designed to be quick and effective, providing a well-rounded workout in a short amount of time. You can adjust the number of repetitions or duration of each exercise based on your fitness level and available time.
Bodyweight movement snack routine:
- Bodyweight Squats (10 reps)
- Push-Ups (10 reps): You can choose the variation that suits your fitness level, whether it’s full push-ups, knee push-ups, or incline push-ups against a wall or elevated surface.
- High Knees (30 seconds): Lift your knees as high as you can while jogging in place for 30 seconds to increase your heart rate and work your core and leg muscles.
- Plank (5-30 seconds): Hold a plank position for 30 seconds to engage your core and improve core strength and stability.
Dumbbell movement snack routine:
- Goblet squat: 10 reps
- Dumbbell floor press: 10 reps
- Dumbbell rows: 10 reps
- Steam engines: 10 to each side
Kettlebell movement snack routine:
- Kettlebell swings: 10 reps
- Kettlebell goblet reverse lunges: 5 per leg
- Kettlebell overhead press: 10 reps
For any of these routines, you can perform it as a standalone movement snack or repeat it throughout the day whenever you have a short break.
For example, maybe you start with one round to start your day at 6 am. Then you do another round at 10 am. After lunch, you decide to get in another round. Finally, you get in one more round before dinner.
Or you could start your day with 10 goblet squats. Then at 10 am, you could do 10 floor presses. You would carry on like this the rest of the day.
How to create your own movement snacks routine
Creating your own movement snacks routine is a flexible and personalized way to ensure you’re getting the physical activity you need throughout the day. Here are the steps to help you design a movement snacks routine that suits your fitness goals and schedule:
Identify Available Time Slots:
Consider your daily schedule and identify short breaks or free moments where you can fit in your movement snacks. This might be during work breaks, before or after meals, or while watching TV.
Determine Exercise Durations:
Decide how long or how many reps you’ll perform each exercise. Typically, movement snacks are short, 10 to 30 seconds to 5 to 10 reps.
Keep this super simple. Pick exercises that are convenient and approachable for you. Try and mix up the movement patterns each day or over the course of the week.
Plan the Routine:
Arrange the exercises in a sequence to create a structured routine. Ensure you have a mix of exercises that target different muscle groups or aspects of fitness. Or, just pick one exercise to focus on for the day.
Most importantly, continue to focus on form with every exercise. Ain’t nobody got time to get injured.
When to use them
They can be used whenever.
Work Breaks: Take advantage of your work breaks to fit in a quick movement snack. Whether you’re in the office or working from home, a short exercise break can help refresh your mind and prevent prolonged periods of sitting.
Between Tasks: Use movement snacks as transitions between different tasks or activities. They can help you refocus and increase productivity by clearing your mind.
Before or After Meals: Incorporate movement snacks before or after meals to help with digestion and regulate blood sugar levels. It can also be a way to prevent overeating.
Morning Wake-Up: Kickstart your day with a movement snack. It can provide an energy boost and help you feel more alert and ready to tackle your daily responsibilities.
Mid-Afternoon Slump: Many people experience a dip in energy and focus in the afternoon. A short movement snack can help combat this slump and reenergize you for the rest of the day.
Study or Work Sessions: If you’re studying or working on a project for an extended period, schedule brief movement snacks to keep your mind and body engaged. They can help prevent mental fatigue.
During Screen Time: If you spend a lot of time in front of a screen, whether for work or leisure, take breaks for movement snacks to reduce eye strain, improve circulation, and relieve muscle tension.
Before Bed: Gentle stretching or relaxation exercises can be incorporated into your evening routine to unwind and promote better sleep.
While Watching TV: Make the most of your TV-watching time by incorporating movement snacks during commercials or between episodes. It’s a productive way to break up sedentary behavior.
As Stress Relief: Use movement snacks as a stress-relief tool. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, a short workout can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood.
In Nature: If you have access to a natural environment, such as a park or garden, use movement snacks as an opportunity to connect with nature. This can enhance the mental and physical benefits of exercise.
When Waiting: Whether you’re waiting for an appointment, for public transportation, or for someone to arrive, use the time constructively by engaging in a quick movement snack.
The key is to find opportunities in your daily routine when you have short breaks or moments to spare. Incorporating movement snacks at these times can help you stay active and improve your overall health without significantly disrupting your schedule.
Can you do them every day?
Go on with your bad self and get them in whenever you can.