Exercise snacking!

Busting the myth that you need a solid-hour…

 

“I won’t be able to do that 1 hour class, so there’s no point.”

Have you ever thought this?

It’s such a common thought that exercise needs to be a ‘sufficient amount’ or there is no point doing it.

Why is this?

I don’t know why most of us think this way, but I do know that it stops a lot of people doing enough healthy movement!

In this mini blog I am advocating for the “exercise snacking” approach. Especially for anyone feeling too busy to take 20 mins out to exercise!

But what IS exercise snacking?

 

Grab a snack! 😉

Exercise snacking is a term coined by Sports Science researchers. It means to do very short bouts of exercise often, sometimes even several times a day. The exercise is often of quite vigorous intensity.

What can this look like?

  • Squats /squat jumps
  • Running up some stairs
  • Push-ups
  • Burpees
  • Sun-Salutations!

The Research

Researchers Oliver Perkin and his team at the University of Bath have researched the effects of exercise snacking on 20 adults over age 65.

They found that a few minutes of leg exercises twice a day, for 28 days, significantly improved leg strength compared with a control group (Perkin et al., 2019).

This is a new and emerging area of research and most available studies include older adults. So you might think:

“How is that relevant to me? I’m not over 65.”

 

Is this relevant?

Well, it’s actually a lot more difficult for older adults to gain muscle strength than for younger folk.

Older adults are working an up-hill battle when it comes to gaining strength due to a natural decrease in hormones geared towards building-up muscle tissues.

The older we are, the more our muscles start reducing in size and strength (a process called Sarcopenia). UNLESS, we do something about it. Cue: exercise snacks!

Sooooo it stands to reason that if someone over age 65 can improve their strength with exercise snacks, then there’s a good chance that younger peeps can do so too!

 

Younger people?

I could only find one study with younger participants.

This was a group of 12 adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes. These teenagers performed 6-minutes of exercise snacks three times a day for three months (Hasan et al., 2020).

After 3 months of exercise snacking the teenagers had lost 2.2% body fat.

This study is perhaps even less relevant to you than that with the older participants, however it is still a proof of the exercise snacking principle!

Needless to say, there is room for a lot more research into exercise snacking! Personally, I’d love this principle applied to adults working from home or first-time mums, just to name a few.

 

A Yoga snack?

So where does yoga come in?

The research on yoga generally gives participants a 1-hour class once or twice a week. But I think it would be MORE interesting to see what 10-15 minutes of yoga 6 days a week would do!

As exercise snacking involves strength-movements, this can be incorporated in a short yoga practice. This could look like a few minutes of:

  • Sun salutations
  • Plank pose / Side plank pose
  • Chair pose
  • Warrior 1, Warrior 2 or Warrior 3
  • Yoga squats
  • Crow pose
  • …I could go on!

Yoga snacking has not yet been scientifically studied, unfortunately.

However, I HAVE heard from some of my online BendyFriends that they have felt a difference in their strength after consistently doing my 10-15 minute classes!

As well as the physical benefits, I’m also interested in the cumulative mindfulness aspect of 10 minutes a day.

So the jury is still out, but YOU can explore for yourself whether yoga snacks will make a difference!

 

Snacks lead to (good) habits…

While this is not a good thing when it comes to chocolate…. It IS a good thing when it is about exercise or yoga!

Finding the time to do just 10 minutes of yoga or exercise is SO MUCH EASIER than it is for 1 hour.

If short ‘yoga snacks’ then become a regular occurrence, it MIGHT eventually become a healthy habit in your life. When something is a habit, then you no longer need to spend mental energy on it. It will just happen!

And once it’s a HABIT, you will slowly start finding a little more time to spend on your yoga mat.

Yoga homework

I invite you to start a heathy snacking habit! 😉

Decide whether it will be:

10 minutes of yoga

2 minutes of squats

1 minute of plank

(or something else!)

 

Then decide WHERE and WHEN you’ll do this each day:

In the morning?

during lunch?

pre-dinner?

 

Let’s get snacking!

(If you’re not yet a BendyFriend, have a look at my offerings.)

Learn more!

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in comments below!

Jolanthe x


References

Hasan, R., Perez-Santiago, D., Churilla, J. R., Montes, B., Hossain, J., Mauras, N., & Darmaun, D. (2020). Can short bouts of exercise (“exercise snacks”) improve body composition in adolescents with type 1 diabetes? A feasibility study. Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 92(4), 245-253.

Perkin, O. J., McGuigan, P. M., & Stokes, K. A. (2019). Exercise snacking to improve muscle function in healthy older adults: a pilot study. Journal of aging research, 2019.

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