Question: do you like snacks and hate long, boring workouts? If so, “fitness snacking”—breaking your workouts down into short, digestible (do-able) chunks—could be your ticket to getting in shape, even if you are one of the 6 million Australians who are sedentary, but too busy to fit a gym session into their schedule.
Fitness snacking was recently tested by Sam Wollaston, journalist at The Guardian, who tried to get fit without dedicating a single chunk of his day to the gym. This new ‘exercise diet’ is guided by the little-but-often mindset of snacking, except that instead of having a mars bar every couple of hours, you go for a quick sprint around the block (or some equivalent exercise).
“The good news,” he points out, is that, “Fitness snacking is the key to getting into shape.” The bad: “There are no actual snacks involved,” so you can put away any mental image you just had of taking a leisurely stroll with a coffee and a donut.
“Fitness snacking is doing short periods of exercise throughout the day. Ideal for sedentary but busy people with little time for spinning classes or swimming,” (The Guardian).
The best way to kickstart your ‘fitness snacking’ routine, is with a high intensity workout—even if it only takes 10 minutes. This, celebrity personal trainer Matt Roberts, told The Telegraph is more effective than a longer, more gentle (and time consuming) one. So (to follow the ‘fitness snacking’ protocol), don’t go for a half hour jog when you get home from work. Instead warm up, then go for a more intense, 10-15 minute run. How do you know it’s intense enough? You’ll be out of breath and sweaty.
Another great way to get the heart rate up, for those whose bodies are not up for sprinting or shuttle runs, is by invoking ‘peripheral heart action.’ This involves working out your extremities, alternating between your arms and legs, to get the blood pumping all around your body (e.g. squats, followed by push ups, followed by lunges, then pull-ups, etc.).
These high intensity workouts give you more ‘fitness snacking’ points, as they are harder to do, and more effective. So doing burpees for 15 minutes will earn you 6 points, where as walking the dog for 30 minutes or taking a yoga class will earn you three (the aim is to hit 10 points per day). Then you just have to work out how to deal with your sweaty clothes, ask your office to install a shower, and you’re sweet! Either that or stick your high intensity workouts before and after work, with a couple of lighter one’s in between.