Exercise “Snacks” to Decrease Mortality
Alicia Sabatino, MS, ACSM-CEP
An estimated 1/3 of the global population aged 15 or older is physically inactive resulting in poor health outcomes. Between desk jobs, driving, and binge-watching the new hit TV show, the population has turned couch potato. A sedentary lifestyle has an array of adverse health effects, including elevated all-cause mortality, CVD mortality, cancer risk, risks for metabolic diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension, dyslipidemia, and musculoskeletal diseases such as joint pain and osteoporosis
The most common barrier our patients seem to have to implementing exercise into their day is time. How can we combat this issue?
One very simple solution to getting started is to sprinkle in exercise throughout the day by implementing small “exercise snacks” in your daily routine. This is an attainable way to work towards the recommended weekly dose of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise and decrease sitting time. The goal here is to frequently break up your sitting time with small bursts of moderate to vigorous intensity movement. This could be doing squats or lunges in your office, climbing stairs, or briskly walking the halls for a few minutes. The idea here is that even in the busiest of lifestyles we can often find a couple minutes frequently throughout the day versus a full 30+ minute chunk to engage in physical activity. Research has shown that decreasing sedentary behavior by 60 minutes a day is associated with an 18% lower mortality rate 2!
The key to exercising snacks is to consistently do them every day and frequently throughout the day. The goal is to decrease sedentary behavior and get the heart rate up more often. This will allow for benefits such as increased cardiac function, endurance, flexibility, strength, and better metabolic function! There are also cognitive benefits to getting the blood flowing! Brain function increases so you can think more clearly and achieve more productivity in the day while also decreasing anxiety and depression rates!
To begin getting yourself into the routine of moving more throughout the day you may consider strategies such as setting digital reminders using your smartwatch, and apps like Stand Up! The Work Break Timer or simply set a timer every 30 – 60 minutes. When the timer goes off you get up for your exercise snack!
Keep in mind that decreasing sedentary behavior combined with getting in the
recommended dose of exercise (at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise
combined with strength training) is still ideal. However, research still shows benefits from moving more so realistically anything you do is better than nothing! Implementing exercise snacks decreases sitting time and hopefully creates a more active lifestyle along the way for longevity and increased quality of life!