Motion snacks: why taking rest breaks is good for your health

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“Movement snack” is a catch-all term for any kind of physical activity that you do in very short bursts, say one to 10 minutes, as opposed to more traditional fitness routines that have you exercising for longer. long periods. And while the exact benefit you’ll get from your movement snack depends on the activity, research shows that breaking up your day with even the simplest movements has health benefits that can improve your mood, circulation, strength and more – minus the extra minutes of blood, sweat and tears you’d expect.

In bad news for those who have retreated to work from home jobs behind a computer screen for the past few years, sitting all day is bad enough for your health. In some cases, being sedentary even for too long nullifies hard-earned perks exercises you can do at the end of the day.

And the lack of movement becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of even less energy to exercise. Haley Perlus, a sports and performance expert and Colorado-based trainer, says we often get tired after a long day of sitting because we haven’t maintained or created energy. That is, our blood did not circulate or carry oxygen throughout our body.

But movement – even if it’s brief – can help boost our energy and improve our mood.

“Getting out and moving your body is one of the best ways to reclaim your emotions,” Perlus said.

With a few tweaks and adaptation to the “motion snack” lifestyle, you have the potential to improve your blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as reap other benefits from working out with just a pinch of effort.

Maria Korneeva/Getty Images

Exercise snacks and movement snacks

Whether in snack or long-lasting form, being physically active is a good thing. But of course there are differences in intensity. While a movement snack can refer to any type of short-term physical activity, an “exercise snack” generally refers to a more vigorous activity, such as five minutes of jumping jacks or squats . Exercise matters “as long as your body is challenged,” Perlus said.

A small study published in PLOS One compared the effects of different lengths of exercise – a 10-minute commitment with one minute of intense exercise, versus 50 minutes of continuous exercise. After 12 weeks, both types of exercise improved cardiometabolic healthstating that you could achieve the same health benefits “despite five times less exercise volume and time commitment,” the authors wrote.

Of course, not wanting to engage in strenuous exercise in the middle of your workday, even for 10 minutes, is understandable. But fear not: you can get significant health benefits by moving a lot less. A study published in 2019 that had approximately 8,000 participants 45+ found that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of less “exercise” daily movement, such as household chores or walking, reduces the likelihood of death from all causes.

And it’s even better (shorter): a very small study by researchers at Columbia University found that five minute walk every 30 minutes lowered blood pressure and better controlled blood sugar spikes after eating, both of which are markers of good health and are important to monitor as they can influence the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

To start your movement snack, Perlus suggests being active for at least a minute every hour. Get up and walk a few times between email responses, roll your shoulders and ankles, flex your legs – anything to get the blood pumping.

Beyond physical health, moving can even improve mental health symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety in some people in releasing endorphins and helps distract you from worries. Perhaps a quick step down the hall can disrupt your thoughts enough that you can approach them with a clearer head.

An older man walking in the park with a bottle of water in his hand

Zorica Nastasic/Getty Images

Examples of movement snacks

It sounds overly simplistic, but the simple act of walking every day has the potential to boost your immune functioncurb your craving for sweets, improve your mood and more. And it’s easy to incorporate a walk-flavored motion snack even into your work routine or daily routine.

Learn more: 10 “workouts” you probably already do every day

Pace while you think

Rhythm thinkers, rejoice! When you have the attention span of a fruit fly, nothing gets the creative juices flowing just like pacing around your desk or down the hall. There is research to suggest walking can help clear your mind, potentially beneficial for your work or creative pursuits. Now you have an excuse to double the profits and wander around the kitchen for a few minutes while you try to find a solution to your problem.

Drink plenty of water, so you need to take a few restroom breaks during your working day

Two welfare birds, a hacked health stone. Staying hydrated can improve your cognition, digestion, and even your Mental Health, but it will also allow you to get up from your chair and walk down the hall to the bathroom. Walking to the bathroom can be a fortified movement snack, if you will.

If you’re into a movie marathon or a Tiktok scroll bender, go walk to the mini market for a snack

Of course, if what separates you from the nearest convenience store is the freeway or piles of snow, don’t. But the thing is, a lazy day meant only for rest doesn’t have to be a motionless snack. Even if your break is just in the next room to reheat something in the microwave, take the time to walk around the dining room table waiting for the microwave to be ready.

Sit on the floor and stretch

Stretching can improve your flexibility, increase blood circulation, help your joints, calm you down, and release endorphins. To break your stretches down into movement snacks, browse through these routines for more flexibility or this list of stretch do’s and don’ts.

A woman in a yellow shirt stretching her arms with a cat on her lap

Jessie Casson/Getty Images

Exercise snacks for when you want to take bites out of your workout

If you want to give your movements a boost and take advantage of the time to build muscle or challenge your body, choose exercises that are relatively simple and don’t require crazy weights or equipment.

“I would personally recommend something like circuit training,” Perlus said, including jumping jacks, wall squats and the like. beginner level exercises which are easy to fall into.

To reduce the damage of hours spent in a seated position, you can also invest in a standing deskor if you’re feeling even more inspired and have the cash to spend, a treadmill desk.

A Long Story Short About Motion Snacks

Some things in the wellness space seem to come at a high cost – a subscription to a meal plan, buying a really cool watch with an ECG sensor, just to name two. But sometimes real health benefits can come from something as simple as remembering to drink water or taking five 10-minute work breaks.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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if you want it now Create a new Facebook account Using your phone number instead of your email address, you need to follow these steps:

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