Have you had any delicious “exercise snacks”? This unusual term refers to small bursts of physical activity. It can range from something as simple as standing after sitting awhile to any type of short vigorous activity. It is easier to incorporate exercise snacks into our day. For example, those of us who work or study on campus can vigorously climb a few flights of stairs in the morning, at lunch and in the evening.
According to a study by McMaster University, these “bites” of cardiovascular activity led to better cardiovascular health, improved insulin resistance, and a lower risk of premature death. In addition to improved fitness and physical health, exercise snacks improve our mental health. Exercise has a way of clearing one’s head, lifting one’s mood and helping one feel more energetic. You can feel better about yourself simply because of the inner pride that comes from doing something hard. Those who exercise regularly report benefits such as increased energy, improved sleep, higher self-esteem and greater confidence. Exercise also eases anxiety by reducing fear and panic.
Exercise snacks are a way to reframe our views toward exercise. You can view exercise as a dreaded activity and something you can easily ignore as you get busier. As students with obligations to work, school, family and friends, it can be hard to squeeze exercise into our schedules on a daily basis. You can think about exercise as a short “snack” or treat that will improve your mental and physical health.
Exercise snacks also challenge the idea that if you cannot do the full workout today, you might as well do nothing. You can tell yourself that even if you cannot do a full workout, you can still do a few exercise snacks throughout your day as a break from working and studying. It improves your productivity, creativity and morale. You will return to work more alert. It breaks up the day and allows you to focus for a period of time on a task knowing that you will have a break coming up.