You have a looming deadline at work, accompanied by a crazy booked schedule for the days ahead. Overwhelm and stress begin to take over, and your mind is racing. You think to yourself “I could go for a walk or head to the gym, but that seems like a lot of effort compared to making a beeline for the pantry”. Heading to the pantry wins, naturally.

You scan the pantry, looking for that one snack that will hit the spot, and the mindless munching begins. As soon as it ends, you are back to feeling overwhelmed by deadlines and schedules. The tasks at hand are still there, and you haven’t made any progress towards meeting your looming deadline. Now you are even more stressed out, and feeling a bit guilty too.

If you find yourself reaching for snacks as a way to soothe yourself, reduce stress, alleviate boredom, manage difficult emotions, or as a response to cravings, let’s talk about another way to “snack” in response to these situations – and one that may actually benefit you greatly. 

While it is true that food provides us with much-needed fuel necessary for our survival, in the absence of physical hunger, snacking can prevent you from meeting your goals. If you are looking to lose weight, manage your blood sugar, or get in shape, we may have a snacking solution for you – exercise snacking!

I first learned of the idea of exercise snacking from Dr. Jade Teta. Although this concept wasn’t created by Dr. Jade, who formerly referred to this concept as “blitz and burst training”, this form of snacking has become a popular way to move more throughout the day. It is backed by solid research and science, too.

Dr. Jade first picked up this habit when he was making long road trips back and forth across the country. Normally you’d think that long road trips bring about tons of sitting in the car and many convenience store snacks to keep your mouth and hands busy, leading to weight gain. While that may be true, road trips don’t have to equate to eating more and moving less. In fact, Dr. Jade found that at the end of his trips, he would be about 5 pounds lighter and feel great. Why?

Dr. Jade was implementing a form of training called “exercise snacking”.  He would set a timer on his mobile device for every 90 minutes or so. When the alarm went off, he would set another timer for 1-3 minutes, get out of the car, choose an exercise, and do as many reps as possible of that exercise for the full amount of time on his timer. He would push until he had to rest and then would begin again. 

While you may be thinking to yourself, “great, but I don’t have any road trips planned in the coming months” so how does this apply to me? Exercise snacking is a great way to increase your movement and physical activity throughout the day, anytime and anywhere. 

Have a busy workday sitting at your computer? Use the timer concept just as Dr. Jade did while traveling. Missed your workout due to getting kids to school? Yes, you guessed it! Use the timer concept!

You may be surprised at the kind of results you can see just by incorporating small bursts of intentional movement and exercise into your day. Think of all of the amazing bodyweight exercises that are easily incorporated without any fancy equipment or that require large spaces. Things like single-leg squats, push-ups, sit-ups, jump squats, Bulgarian split squats, burpee push-ups, and handstand push-ups are all options to consider. And there are plenty more aside from that.

If your fitness level needs a bit of work, things like marching or jogging in place, walking up and down the stairs in your home, arm circles, leg lifts, or sitting down then standing back up in your chair are other great options. YouTube even has some great videos to help with creating your own repertoire of daily exercises.

If you pick a different exercise to do every day of the week, you’ll actually be able to get in a total body workout without setting aside time to get to the gym or schedule a longer workout. That being said, you may still have some challenges with the thought of getting started. 

I’m a huge fan of baby steps, so how about challenging yourself to set your timer to go off at 3 separate intervals throughout the day this week? See how it feels to move more and break up your days by blitzing and bursting. After a week of doing this, see if moving to 4 or 5 intervals is reasonable or realistic for you. If not, no worries. Stick with 3 intervals and challenge yourself to do more when you are ready.

What do you think? Are you ready to start to snack on exercise now? I know I am!

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash