fitness

'Fitness snacking' is the new, easy way to reach your fitness goals without getting bored.

In what is possibly the cruellest name for a fitness trend – health professionals are recommending “fitness snacking”.

No, it’s not snacking while working out, which is what we definitely thought (and hoped) it would be.

But while snacking at the gym sounds like something we’d totally be on board with – this doesn’t sound so bad either. I mean, as far as exercise goes.

British celebrity personal trainer Matt Roberts recently told The Telegraph that ongoing spurts of physical activity, or “fitness snacks” can help prevent heart disease and diabetes, and are a realistic means of incorporating physical exercise into your day, rather than attempting to commit to an hour long workout.

The manageable approach to exercise has a range of health benefits – and doesn’t require waking up at the crack of dawn for a trip to the gym before work or forcing yourself to squeeze in a workout after work when all you really want to do is reunite with the couch.

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So what constitutes a “fitness snack”? Well, anything, really. From a 15-minute walk in your lunch break, to walking the dog after work – any short burst of exercise can count as a “fitness snack”, but in order to reap the full benefits, Matt says it’s worthwhile to keep track using a points system.

He added that you should be aiming for a minimum of five points a day, which sounds like a lot – but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do five different “snacks” of exercise each day.

Matt went on to explain that for each different exercise, and each level of intensity, a different amount of points can be applied.

Walking the dog for 30 minutes is three points, for example, while a 30-minute jog is six. Taking a 15-minute walk during your lunch break is one point, and a yoga class is three. So you could do a dog walk and a yoga class in one day – smashing your target without having to rearrange your day too much to incorporate it. Maths.

As your fitness level improves, the aim is to gradually increase your points.

Exercise Physiologist and Managing Director of TherapyCare, Andrew Zorzit, says “fitness snacking” is a great way to meet your physical requirement throughout the week, but added that “it’s all about balance” and setting achievable goals.

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“Being busy is a trend that is an obstacle for wellbeing,” Andrew said.

“My main goal is to create a fitness regime personalised to everyone’s unique situation, so exercise isn’t yet another task they have to tick off the to-do list. Enter fitness snacking.”

He went on to say advise when introducing exercise, the key is to make it “accessible”, and keep it realistic. For example, if you’ve never been big on going to the gym – attempting to commit to a workout in your lunch break everyday probably isn’t going work for you in the long run.

This is what makes fitness snacking so appealing to a busy worker. According to Andrew, it avoids “setting yourself up for failure”.

“For those in an office environment, whose days are spent mostly in a sedentary position, I encourage them to move around for 2-3 minutes every 20 minutes,” he said.

“Doing this controls and increases blood sugar levels and neutralises the effects of sitting down for an extended period of time. When you can do more, particularly in your lunch break, go for a 15-minute brisk walk.”

He said the “points system” discussed by Matt Roberts was “useful and clever”, but again, added that goals need to be set out according to what you’ll be capable of achieving in a normal working day.

“I wouldn’t want to give the five-point goal to someone who doesn’t have the capability to reach it,” he said.

“Having goals, like hitting five points, or clocking 10,000 steps per day work effectively both as a starting point and to keep you on track. By doing 10,000 steps per day you’re hitting the minimum requirement of movement for base level good health.”

“Something is always better than nothing when it comes to exercise,” he added.

The benefits of including a small amount of exercise, or a “fitness snack” in your day include improving bone health, increasing muscle strength and releasing endorphins.

For some simple fitness snack activity ideas, he recommended:

Ten minutes of meditation – because mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing. One point.

Chair stands – moving from a seated position to a standing position and repeating 50 times. This will get your big muscles (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings) working. Two points.

Skipping rope – raises heart rate. One point for every three minutes skipped.

HIIT interval training – 20 second of a high intensity activity (e.g. sprinting, burpees, star jumps) followed by 30 seconds of rest x 5 times. Three points.

Now, who’s hungry?

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