Short on time to workout? No problem. Science says you can squeeze in tiny exercise “snacks” to get fit and stay healthy. Research shows these tiny bursts of activity pack a lot of benefits into a small amount of time. They should be challenging enough to jack up your heart rate, but only for a minute or less at a time.Dr. Scott Learexplains, “They’re somewhere between that short walk to the water cooler in pre-pandemic times and high-intensity interval training.”
These short and sweet exercise snacks could include 20 seconds of squat jumps, stair climbing, burpees or sprinting down the block for 60 seconds. And while the workouts are mini, they’re building cardiorespiratory fitness, a major indicator of overall health.
- One study finds that sedentary but healthy women improved their cardiorespiratory fitness by doing just 20 seconds of vigorous stair climbing three times a day for three weeks.
- Another study had inactive young adults do 20-second bike “sprint snacks” where they pedaled as fast as they could three times a day, separated by one to four hours of rest. After six weeks, their cardiorespiratory fitness improved by 9%, similar to the 13% increase a group doing 10-minute cycling sessions saw.
- And preliminary research on a group of people who typically sit for eight hours a day suggests that doing five 4-second cycling sprints every hour in the workday - for a total of 160 seconds of exercise - had 31% lower triglyceride levels and boosted fat metabolism by 43%.
Anyone can benefit from exercise snacks, no matter their fitness level, but inactive people may gain the most from them. And while current exercise guidelines call for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, a few micro workouts can be a good option when you don’t have time. “The messaging now is anything is better than nothing,” explainsDr.Martin Gibala, “and every little bit counts.”