Exercise

Movement Snacks

Movement Snacks

You guys, I know I am always talking about exercise, but I can’t help it! It is so good for us. What if exercise could come in the form of a snack? Are movement snacks a real thing?

Every week, I meet people who do not exercise nor have much of any physical activity in their lives. Typically, they have so many ailments and cannot move their bodies well enough for simple activities of daily living, let alone for their recreational activities. Now, this group of people are not just experiencing physical limitations such as pain, limited range of motion, decreased strength, and possibly poor balance, but they are also possibly suffering from a poor mindset, lack goal setting, and they possibly some other mental health issues as well.

The cause of minimal exercise or no drive to increase activity level could potentially be a lack of motivation. But I honestly think it is because we (as a country on average) are not well educated on the benefits of exercise or how to modify exercise if we have pain or an injury.

If someone doesn’t like the word exercise, then replace it with physical activity!

But I am here for you! Let me help you! Exercise is so powerful and it is free!

Okay, you might be wondering when my rant will be over and when we can get back to talking about snacks.

Movement Snacks

Most of the time, when I work with people in pain, it is from repeated movements or sustained postures. They do the same thing, over and over again, at work or at home. The repeated movement and sustained posturing causes areas of your body to get overworked. You end up with tight muscles in the direction you are always working and weak muscles in the ones that you don’t use. As a result you end up having pain “out of nowhere”.

Take a desk job as an example of sustained posture. You are sitting in one position for hours on end, working hard, not noticing how you are slouching. With this, muscles in the front of your body tightened, muscles on the back side are lengthened and weakened, and you end up cranking your neck up to see into their computer screen. Again, one day you start to experience pain “out of nowhere”.

What if we snacked more?

What if we have movement snacks spread throughout our day? Not just for those 2 types of scenarios described above, but for all people, whether they are at home or at work. Could you find time to take a break every 30 to 60 minutes to get some movement snacking in? The benefits of a 2 minute stretch break every 30 minutes significantly outweighs your loss of “productivity”, and honestly, possibly your whole mindset to your work day. Therefore productivity may even improve if you allow yourself to have these “snacks”.

the same scenario could apply to people that don’t work or who have jobs that do not require repeated movements or sustained postures. The physical benefit of movement and getting your blood pumping more consistently throughout the day outweighs any “inconvenience” it may have in your daily schedule.

I challenge you to try it for a week, set an alarm for every 2 hours (to start with) and get yourself a movement snack. Need some ideas?

Movement snacks:

3 rounds of 15 seconds each:
Jumping Jacks
Push ups
Sit ups

1 round of 30 seconds each:
Doorway pec stretch
Downward dog
Pigeon stretch, each leg

Go on a 5-10 minute walk around the block

Go up and down your stairs 3 times

All of those (besides the walk) should take you less than 3 minutes!

Research

Great, that all seeems like my opinion. But don’t worry, there is research to back it up.

This article looked at older adults and exercise snacking (same as movement snacking). It looked at twice a day, 5 minute movement snacks versus a control group of no snacking. The conclusion stated that exercise snacking might be a promising strategy to improve leg muscle function and size in older adults and that further investigation into zero-cost exercise strategies that allow high frequency of training is warranted

Another piece of research, looking at a movement snacks in a younger population, also demonstrated positive outcomes. This research suggested that taking the stairs more often was effective in increasing overall aerobic fitness.

So choosing to take the stairs versus the elevator or escalator improved their fitness level.

Examples of how I incorporate this type of movement snacking:

Instead of trying to bring in all the groceries in one load, I bring in one bag at a time, from my car to the kitchen.

I put away one pile of clothes at a time (super effective if your laundry is downstairs and your closet is upstairs).

Parking further away from your work or store entrance.

Walk to the mailbox instead of getting in from your car.

Those are just a few examples of ways to increase your movement snacks.

While the research may be small, it is a point in the right direction. However, even if that research did not exist, movement snacking is a great way to break up the monaotnenty of your day. It allows breaks in your repeated movements or sustained postures at work. It allows you to work on your overall activity level and getting your heart pumping.

Can you complete the challenge? Let us know!

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