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Quick Exercise Snacks: Fueling Fitness For Midlife Women | CrunchyTales

Quick Exercise Snacks: Effective Fitness Routine for Busy Midlife Women

4 min read

As midlife women, we juggle a lot, and even though we know how important it is to practise sports, fitting in a full gym session or a ping pong match can sometimes feel impossible. But did you know that short bursts of activity can be just as beneficial? They are called  “exercise snacks” and they have nothing to do with your daily smoothie but rather they can help you get closer to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week to get you back in shape.

What are exercise snacks?

Experts agreed we need to rethink how we view activity and exercise and get creative. Exercise snacking might be the answer. They refer to engaging in short bursts of high-intensity movement or exercise that typically lasts for no more than two minutes. It’s something that you can and should incorporate into your daily routine at different times (whether at home while busy cooking or during the coffee break at work).

The concept behind these brief periods of intense movement is similar to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), where you exert your body for a short period of time, rest briefly, and then repeat the movement. However, with exercise snacking, the workout or movement lasts a couple of minutes, followed by an extended rest period of an hour or more.

For example, if a work meeting ends early, you can take advantage of that extra time to squeeze in a quick burst of exercise, such as climbing stairs for two minutes, getting up from your desk, taking a walk around the block but, in order to work, your exercise needs to be vigorous (meaning that it’s difficult for you to say more than a few words with needed to take a breath).

To snack-ify your day, you can even turn errands into workouts by parking further away, doing some house chores, dancing around your house, carrying groceries upstairs, playing with your kids or grandkids, mowing your lawn

Alternatively, you can combat chair fatigue with squats, lunges, or arm raises at your desk, ideally, some movement breaks every hour.

Of course, consistency is key when it comes to exercise snacks. It’s important to make sure you’re doing it every day and staying active on a daily basis, rather than sporadically. Simply doing it whenever you remember won’t have much of an impact. Only if you can maintain a consistent exercise-snacking routine for a month or two you’ll start to see results.

Exercise snacks routine examples

A study by the University Of Bath showed that just 60 seconds of exercise, done regularly for a month, can really improve your fitness. In just four weeks, people were able to do 30% more sit-to-stands, their legs got stronger, and their thigh muscles even got a little bigger. That’s a great payoff for just a minute of work!

Here are some exercise snacks they recommend for you to follow:

1) Sit-to-stand: start by standing up from a chair, then sitting back down. Remember to cross your arms over your chest to rely on your legs for support. It’s recommended to do this exercise first in your routine and keep track of how many times you can do it in a minute to monitor your improvement.

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2) Standing knee bends: stand upright and hold onto something stable for balance if you need to. Lift one foot at a time by bending your knee to about a right angle. Then, place that foot back on the floor, regain your balance if needed, and do the same with the other leg.

3) March on the spot: stand up straight, extend your arms in front of you with your hands around waist level, and lift one leg by bending your knee and hip according to the diagram. Try to bring your thigh as close to parallel with the ground as you can, making sure it touches your hands. Then, return to a standing position, regain your balance if needed, and repeat the movement with your other leg. If you find it difficult to maintain balance, you can hold onto a sturdy object like the back of a chair with one hand.

4) Seated leg kicks: Sit up straight in a chair, extend your knee to lift your leg in front of you slowly, then bring it back down, and switch to the other leg. If you have long legs, consider using a rolled-up towel under your thigh to elevate your knee slightly higher at the beginning.

5) Standing calf raises: start with your feet flat on the floor, then rise up onto your tip-toes as high as possible before returning to the starting position. For stability, hold onto a chair, table, or door frame. Remember to do the raises on both legs simultaneously, aim to do as many as you can in a minute, and then take a one-minute rest.

So, how often should you be exercise snacking?

The goal is to break up that sedentary time you’re sitting or working at a desk, which can be bad for your health. Research shows that three times a day, seven days a week can improve your cardiovascular health, increase flexibility, and reduce blood sugar levels. It also has the potential to positively impact mental health, improving productivity, concentration, creativity and more.

It can be as little as 20 seconds to a minute, with the goal of elevating your heart rate. The more snacks you can do during the day the better, but something is better than nothing. Do something that’s attainable and realistic for you.

The bottom line is that if you don’t have a chunk of time to devote to a 30-minute, 45-minute, or longer workout, it’s still worth getting a little sweat on. There’s no excuse for not doing these exercises every day and incorporating them into your daily life if you want to remain healthy. If you consider the time we spend on our mobiles, watching TV or simply waiting for a bus, all it takes is 90 seconds daily for a fantastic overall outcome. With a little creativity, you can weave exercise into your day and reap the rewards of a healthier, more energized you!

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Start small - Aim for 2-3 "snacks" a day and gradually increase.

Listen to your body - Take breaks when needed and modify exercises if needed.

Make it fun! Put on your favourite music or buddy up with a friend.
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