Exercise Snacks: Small Movements To Keep You Moving Through The Day

By Lavanya

Jun 14, 20247 mins read

Exercise Snacks: Small Movements To Keep You Moving Through The Day

Physical activity is necessary for overall health. This is not rocket science. We all NEED to keep moving every day to enjoy good health. In fact, being unable to move or having restricted movement is a sign of an ailing body. 


When I say ‘movement’, I don’t mean weight lifting or strength training only. Even though The Quad specialises in strength training, we recognise the importance of and welcome the various movement protocols out there. By movement, we simply mean moving your body every day.


The health benefits of exercising your body every day are many. Your movements keep your heart rate in the healthy range and are good for your cardiovascular health. They keep your blood pressure level, your blood sugar normal and allow you to enjoy scrabbling about with your kids and grandkids. 


But not all of us can set aside a solid hour a day, every day to train. Even those of us privileged to do so understand this. 


The good news is, we don’t have to! What if we did short bursts of activity scattered throughout the day? Or, as we like to call them, exercise snacks.


Benefits of exercise snacks


What are exercise snacks? These are short bursts of exercise are a low-barrier way to add some extra movement into our day. 


Bite-sized spurts of exercise are ideal for those in desk jobs, who find themselves in a seated position for long stretches of time and who do not have time for a dedicated exercise session or inclination to adopt a new exercise regimen. 


These are not just for those that are time-strapped. The idea that one 30-minute exercise session every other day is enough to stave off the ill-effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle is the biggest hooey we have ever swallowed. By incorporating small exercise snacks into our regular day, even those of us that are our fittest selves can benefit from the positive effects.


The biggest advantage of such exercise snacks is that they easily fit your busy schedule. Even if you are running a big corporation, with back to back meetings, you will still be able to snatch a 10 minute here or there, to get some movement to juice your joints.


These tiny breaks are also a good way to improve your range of motion. Staying in the same position for extended periods of time can cause your bodies to stiffen. Staring at a screen all day can give you a crick in the neck. By taking a few minutes to move will give your achy muscles a break and also improve your range of motion.


Stave off cardiovascular disease - sedentary lifestyles are the biggest cause of metabolic disease. Sitting is even (hyperbolically, perhaps) slated as being worse than smoking. Whichever way you look at it, cardiovascular diseases are on the rise. By simply moving more, you improve blood flow to your heart; by improving blood flow to our heart, you can keep heart disease away. 


Now that we have established the benefits, let’s get to the actual exercise snacks, shall we?


Different types of exercise snacking


Exercise

Take movement snack breaks throughout the day. Make these a part of your daily routine. Think of them as commercial breaks for your health. 


Take a short walk


This is the bestest and easiest. 10,000 steps may be a lofty aim for some but 10 minutes of walking every 60 minutes is eminently doable, right? Brisk walking, mind you - not a slow amble. Whether you are at work, at home, hanging out with your friends, visiting grandma - just break for a walk break every hour or so. 


Do this especially after a meal. Not only will this aid the digestion process, it will also help you get a restful night’s sleep. 


Do neck nods


Staring at a computer all day long? This is the perfect antidote. Sit tall and straight in your chair and breathing deeply, gently move your head from side to side. Keep your gaze forwards and repeat around 10 times. Don’t be aggressive about this. Just go as much as your body feels comfortable. As you repeat the movement, your range of motion will improve and you will be able to move easier and deeper. 


After 10 times of this, move your head up and down. Repeat 10 times. Don’t forget to breathe.


Knock off some air squats


Do 10 bodyweight squats every 45-60 minutes. This is the perfect counter to sitting down all day. Just widen your feet to hip-width and slowly lower your body as much as you can. Do not hold your breath. The first movement can feel a bit creaky but the 10th one will go a whole lot smoother. 


Sitting down all day might also weaken your other muscle groups, cause twinges in your lower back. In such cases, grab on to the back of your chair and do a few hinges. The more you do this, the deeper you will be able to hinge. 


Go up a flight of stairs or two for time


Climb up and down stairs for 10 minutes. That’s it. Just go up and down, at a comfortable pace, for 10 minutes. 


Modern living means we are never too far from a gadget of convenience. When was the last time you voluntarily climbed up a few stairs. In fact, ignore the lift and announce you will be taking the stairs - and you will be met with gasps and a ‘are you alright?’ 


Take your work calls on the move


Exercise

Between hybrid work and work from home opportunities, the moments we can mentally switch off and just be are becoming a rarity. Work calls interrupting our private moments or other aspects of our lives have become very common. 


But here’s a way to make them add some value. Next time you get a call, be it related to work or a personal one, don’t sit still. Keep walking. Just walk around your house, or balcony or terrace. Get some steps in while your mind is occupied elsewhere. 


Do 50 jumping jacks or jump rope 


Now, if you really want to get your heart pumping, a quick burst of energetic movement will do the trick. What better than doing some jumping jacks or star jumps? If 50 seems like a crazy number, start small. Do 10 today and gradually work up to 50. It will take you just a few minutes. 


Or how about jumping rope? Skipping is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise that is largely ignored by most. But it can get your blood moving and how! Even if you don’t have a jump rope handy (what, you don’t carry one in your backpocket?!) just do the motions with your invisible rope. Your heart rate will still go up. 


Kettlebell swings, ftw!


This is for the hardcore fitness buffs out there. Or those that are never too far away from a kettlebell. Do 10 swings whenever you walk past your bell. 


Just 10 easy swings. No need for tension breaths or aggressive movements. Just nice and easy ones. 


Longer workouts and a high-intensity interval training aren't the only way to good physical health. 


By doing these simple exercises that break up your sedentary time, you will give your health a massive boost. You can mix and match these throughout your day to keep things interesting. Some squats now, a post-lunch walk later, some neck nods when the figures in your spreadsheet start dancing out of the monitor….  


By making these small changes and incorporating daily movement into our lives, you can have a positive impact on your mental health, improve your metabolic health and ramp up your cardiorespiratory fitness.  


So go on, keep on (exercise) snacking throughout the day!