“I can’t wait for today’s workout! My trainer has planned this amazing full body workout for me, and it only takes one hour. I just need to finish a few chores, send a couple of emails, and run an errand or two before I go to the wellness center and get that workout started. I’ll feel so great when it’s all done!” 

And then something happens: a neighbor needs help with a flat tire, or you get stuck in traffic, or you find an unexpected pet mess to clean up. Suddenly, the hour you’ve scheduled for your workout has come and gone, and you only have fifteen minutes. What do you do? You may be tempted to skip the workout altogether. 

But wait, what if you could still enjoy the benefits of a full length workout with your limited amount of time? This is where “exercise snacks” can come in handy! In the same way that several small snacks of food can add to your overall daily caloric intake, several small bouts of exercise can add to your activity levels and overall wellness.

Research shows that brief, intermittent bouts of intentional movement can boost energy levels, produce anti-anxiety effects, help control blood glucose levels, and improve cardiovascular health. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans advise, “Do what you can. Even 5 minutes of physical activity has real health benefits.”

Break up a long day of sitting at your desk by sprinkling in short exercise breaks. A good strategy to use is to set a reminder on your watch or phone once an hour to move your body at least a bit. If you complete three ten minute exercise snacks, then you have added thirty minutes of activity to your day!  

Personal trainer Katie Hutchins is a big fan of exercise snacks, and you can often catch her on the fitness floor at Powell Wellness Center, walking a few brisk laps around the track or sneaking in five minutes on an elliptical. Here are a few exercise snacks that she recommends:

  • Walk six laps around the track at Powell Wellness Center: This is a third of a mile, and at a brisk pace, takes about five minutes. If you aren’t at the Wellness Center, you could walk to your mailbox, or take a short walk down the street and back again. If you have a walking buddy, you might find yourself wanting to walk farther and longer. 
  • Climb a few flights of stairs: In your office building, at home, or on a stair climbing machine, taking the steps upstairs is a great way to get your heart rate up when your time is limited and you can’t commit to a long cardio workout.
  • Do a short bodyweight workout: Ten jumping jacks, ten air (bodyweight) squats (see Katie’s tip on doing squats correctly), and ten standing toe touch crunches is a simple snack-size workout that doesn’t require any special equipment. To do a standing toe touch crunch, start with your feet hip-distance apart. Try to keep your chest up as you swing your right leg up and touch your left hand to your right toes. Repeat on the other side. You can do this full routine just once, or challenge yourself to complete it several times for a mini circuit workout.
  • Put on a fun song and dance like nobody’s watching! Music and movement are both great mood boosters; the best workout is the one that you enjoy doing! 

So the next time you notice that your regular workout time has gotten away from you, treat yourself to a short and sweet exercise treat!

Thanks to personal trainer Katie Hutchins (above, right) for sharing her exercise snacking tips!

If you are interested in a personal training session with Katie or another PWC trainer, please contact Whitney Propps at 540-445-5388 or wpropps@culpeperwellness.org!