I tried exercise snacking every day for a week — here are 3 ways it changed my workouts

a woman performing a Bulgarian split squat on a chair
(Image credit: Getty)

When I first heard about exercise snacking, I worried it may be some fad dieting trend doing the rounds on social media. However, this assumption was far from the truth. Exercise snacking refers to short and intense periods of physical activity that can easily slot into your daily routine. 

It's basically an easy solution to making sure you get up and move more in your day, and it can boost both your physical and mental health. So if you can't find time to head to the gym or test out that new pair of running shoes you got for Christmas, you can keep up your activity levels with exercise snacking. 

Amanda Place, Personal Trainer & Founder of Sculptrition, told us, "Many of us face time constraints due to work, family, or other commitments, making it challenging to find extended periods for traditional workouts. 

"Exercise snacking allows individuals to break up their activity into shorter, more manageable sessions throughout the day." This made me curious. As a fitness writer, my weeks are pretty exercise intense.

Between testing out new workout classes such as the latest Rowformer Pilates class on the block to training for marathons, I find myself dedicating a lot of my time to physical activity.

So, I was interested to see what would happen when I put less pressure on my usual exercise demands and solely relied on exercise snacking for a week. Here's what I found.

I tried exercise snacking every day for a week — here’s what happened

Since the main guidelines around exercise snacking are pretty relaxed so long as you are getting in brief bursts of movement throughout your day, I kept things as simple as possible. 

My snacks varied from doing two minutes of bodyweight exercises before I left the house for work, including some squats, lunges and a plank. Then, whenever I had the option to take the stairs, I took it at pace to get my heart rate raised. 

And when I worked remotely, I aimed to stand up every hour and do some chair exercises including Bulgarian split squats, raised push ups, and tricep dips. And on occasion, I just stood up from my desk and freestyled some yoga and mobility moves on one of the best yoga mats.

It's totally free

If you're looking to boost your fitness, you often start with investing in workout gear  like best gym leggings or splash out on a membership at a fancy gym and use this as a form of motivation. While this can work, you also need to have the time and money to keep up with your fitness goals. Enter fitness snacking...

From increasing my daily step count by taking the stairs instead of the lift at work, to resistance training using my chair as a gym bench while I took a break from email writing, I quickly learned during my week of exercise snacking that this approach to fitness is incredibly versatile and accessible. 

Plus, the scientific evidence for exercise snacking is starting to promising. According to an article published in Exercise and Sports Science Reviews, one-minute bouts of vigorous exercise performed throughout the day can improve your cardio fitness. 

I didn't feel guilty

Before I get into this point, I'd like to point out that you don't need to feel guilty for having a day without exercise. This is not what exercise is all about; it's there to make you feel good, and having rest days can help with this.

However, I do sometimes feel lazy if I've not left the house all day or I've skipped a run or trip to the gym because life is too busy or I've not felt up to it. When I started exercise snacking, I could break up long sedentary periods with movement and feel a lot less sluggish by the end of the day.

a woman walking up a set of stairs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I felt more energized

Not only did I bid farewell to feelings of guilt for not fitting in a full 45-minute workout to my day, but I also felt more energized from regularly standing up and moving my body throughout the day. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the runner's high I experience when I'm training for a marathon or attending a Parkrun. But it's not always possible to find time for these activities, which is why exercise snacking is such a joyful way to stay active and boost your mood.

Place agreed, "Engaging in brief periods of exercise can lead to an increase in energy levels and alertness. This is helpful during a busy day when fatigue or a mid-day slump may occur. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins, contributing to improved mood and cognitive function," she noted.

Verdict

After trying out a week of exercise snacking, I think there is definitely a lot of good to be said about this new exercise trend. It's a cost-efficient and convenient way to increase your activity levels and it boosts your mood.

Will it benefit everyone? If you keep up with regular exercise and maintain a good fitness level then of course you aren't going to feel like an athlete from solely switching to exercise snacking. 

Nonetheless, it's the smaller benefits that really do count from exercise snacking. It's the perfect solution for those who lead very busy work schedules yet wish to still fit movement into their weekdays.

And it's important to stay active as you get older or to move around a bit if you have a desk-based job. Exercise snacks are an ideal option as they can improve your physical well-being with small bouts of exercise throughout the day, and you don't need to leave the house or buy any expensive equipment to do it.

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.