Ideally, people should exercise an average of 30 minutes a day. Almost all of us have heard this before. But what if we don't have the time or simply don't feel like exercising for 30 minutes at a time? Even if we know that exercise is indispensable for our health, we can't (always) bring ourselves to do a long workout. But how about exercise in bites?
A snack in between
Although the term "bites" may make you hungry, this isn't about food, it's an alternative to a 30-minute workout every day. When Dr. Cindy Lin doesn't feel like doing a long workout, she breaks it down into small 5-10 minute workouts that she spreads throughout the day. The Harvard graduate calls these short workouts her "fitness snacks."
Even in snack form, the workouts have significant benefits: Like its long counterpart, short workouts can improve heart rate, give an energy boost, and help relieve yourself of everyday stress. Pretty efficient for a 5-minute workout!
The short bites of exercise have another essential benefit: they break up the long sitting.
Sitting is the silent killer
People with office jobs often sit for long periods of time. But people also often sit during their free time. While it's important to get rest too, sitting for long periods of time every day isn't good for your health. Sitting for 6 hours a day increases the risk of dying earlier, says a study published in 2018 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. As a result, sitting has been exaggeratedly called the new smoking or just the silent killer. According to Dr. Naveen Rajpurohit, who specializes in cardiology, the daily 45-minute workout cannot offset the damage of prolonged sitting. Ideally, sitting should be interrupted every 30 minutes. For those of us who don't want to exercise for 45 minutes, this only further argues for sports bites. These morsels interrupt the long sitting and are therefore even more beneficial than one long workout per day.
Putting bites into action
The bottom line is what we all already know: Exercise is the be-all and end-all of our health. Here are some suggestions of what you can do in those 5-10 minute sports bites:
Ride a bike
Climbing stairs (at home)
Dead weight exercise (e.g. push ups, planks, squats)
In between once around the house or office, running up and down the street or up the stairs. Or just take a little dance break in between, which not only encourages exercise, but is also fun. One of your daily morsels can also be the Smart Split Fitness app, which gives you a quick workout that takes no more than 10 minutes.
However, remember to start even the short minute workouts slowly, especially if you are just starting out and have never done this before or haven't done it in a long time.
Ideally, you'll build in alternating exercises so that you incorporate aerobic, strength training, and flexibility exercises so that you have a varied workout and get as many health benefits from it as possible!
Cindy Lin: What a Harvard-trained sports medicine doctor does when she doesn’t feel like exercising: ‘It’s better than nothing’. CNBC, 2022: https://cnb.cx/3tVaFzS.
Alpa V Patel et al.: “Prolonged Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Cause-Specific Mortality in a Large US Cohort”. In.: American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 187, Ausgabe 10, 2018, S. 2151–2158: https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwy125.
Stanford Health News: Sitting is the new smoking: ‘Truly a silent killer’. SHN, 2018: https://news.sanfordhealth.org/heart/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-truly-a-silent-killer/.