Movement Snacks: Get Up and Move Throughout the Day

Finding time to exercise can be tough. Why not break your workouts into bite-sized segments? Meet movement snacks! Instead of spending hours at the gym, spend five to 15 minutes at a time exercising when it is convenient for you. This is also great if you tend to sit all day. To take it further, movement snacks not only replace your gym time, but they’re also an opportunity to get up and move throughout the day.

Key takeaways:
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    Movement snacks are bite-sized workouts sprinkled throughout your day.
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    American adults are sedentary more than ever after the Covid-19 pandemic.
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    Adding movement snacks to your day makes reaching your 30-minute goal easier and more fun!

Let’s dig into the importance of breaks during the day, how much exercise you need, and how to incorporate these into your daily life.

Importance of breaks

In one study, participants reported sitting 7.8 hours more (13.9%) post-COVID-19 shutdowns. These same participants also reported a 22.4% reduction in their total activity. That’s huge! You already know that sitting for extended periods isn’t good for you, but how bad is it exactly?

Another study reported the mean duration of sedentary behavior in American adults is 7.7 hours a day. This leads to weight gain, increased risk of some cancers, depression, and cognitive impairment.

A sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to back and neck pain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.

What can you do about it? Introduce movement snacks into your daily routine!

How much exercise do you need?

Before we get into examples of movement snacks, you need to know how much exercise per week you need as an adult. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should move more and sit less.

Specifically, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise. In addition, adults should also participate in muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.

You need 30 minutes per day, five days a week.

The American Institute of Stress focuses on changing your mindset. Instead of thinking of these recommendations as “exercise”, which may have a negative connotation, think of these suggestions as “movement.” This mind shift will give you a much more desirable activity to complete.

Movement snacks will improve cognitive function, overall health, and resilience in general. It’s also great for managing stress.

How to incorporate movement snacks into daily life

It’s surprisingly simple to add movement breaks into your day. Start stretching when you wake up and before you go to bed each night.

Most smartwatches will notify you if you have been sitting for too long. Listen to it! When you get the notification, stand up and take a stretch break or a quick walk.

If you have an in-office job, consider the following:

  • Take a walk during your lunch break.
  • If you have a meeting with a coworker, make it a walking meeting.
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator.
  • Consider using a standing desk.

If you’re working from home, consider the following:

  • Take a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) break. Think planks, pushups, crunches, and squats.
  • Yoga lunch break.
  • Large conference call? Take a walk while you listen.
  • If you have a dog, take a longer walk at midday to stretch your legs and spend more time with your favorite furry creature.

You can also add movement snacks to your life outside of work. How many crunches can you complete during a commercial break when you’re watching the TV? Can you hold a squat or wall sit while you brush your teeth?

Challenge your partner and/or children to add a little competition! Who in your family can do the most pushups?

Taking a movement break with someone else not only holds you accountable but is excellent for their health too!

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall fitness of Americans changed drastically. More people became sedentary, which leads to a bunch of health issues. Movement snacks are a healthy alternative and can be the key to shifting your mindset about fitness.

While 30 minutes a day, five days a week can seem daunting, breaking that 30 minutes into five- or 10-minute segments makes it easier for you to accomplish without having to spend time at the gym.

These breaks can be incorporated both in and outside of the office and your workday. Consider taking a movement break with your coworker or family member for accountability.

After all, is said and done, the most important thing is that you start moving!


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