Don’t be fooled by the name of this post… we aren’t talking about food or nutrition. No, fitness snacking is the latest fitness phenomenon and is one that’s a particular favourite of Matt Roberts, once the personal trainer for Tom Ford and Naomi Campbell and now the PT for Samantha Cameron. He commented in a recent interview that fitness snacking “involves short periods of exercise dotted throughout the day, rather than doing it all in one go.”
It’s a fitness trend that is said to be perfect for those with a sedentary lifestyle or don’t have the time (or motivation) to complete a whole workout in one block. By breaking exercise down into ‘snack-sized’ chunks, it’s not only easier to squeeze into the day but also less likely be avoided with lame excuses.
Samantha Cameron herself will admit that she prefers to take the ‘little and often’ approach towards exercising: “I’d rather do 15 minutes than nothing at all.”
How does fitness snacking work?
Fitness snacking works on a points scheme and involves numerous acts of exercise or fitness throughout the day, breaking it up, making it more manageable. Took the dog for a walk? That’s two points. Did a 30-minutes weights session? That’s 10 points. OK, so I’m assigning random points to tasks here, but you get the jist. You pick the task, you pick the allocated points and you aim for a set number each day.
Turn it into a challenge. If you’re not able to hit all your points one day, carry the missed points over to the next day and try to do more. Life gets busy, sometimes it’s not always possible to do everything you want to do. You can even treat yourself at the end of the week by allowing yourself a cheat meal, that outfit you’ve been wanting, or whatever. It’s got to be personal to you and it’s got to work for you.
What are the benefits of fitness snacking?
We’ve all been there when it comes to wanting to be fit and healthy but not being able to motivate ourselves. We’ve all made excuses; “I’m too tired”, “I’ve not got enough time”, blah blah blah. Break it down into smaller chunks instead of an hour plus workout and it’s going to be easier to squeeze into the day.
Ultimately, any workout you can squeeze in is going to be better for your health and wellbeing than doing nothing at all. Only recently we did a piece on 17 scientific reasons why running is good for you – and that’s just running. If you can also add in strength training and even some core training, you’ll reap plenty of benefits.
What’s more, a brisk 10-minute walk after dinner is more beneficial for your body that going for a 30-minute walk throughout the day. Although if you can go for a 30-minute walk, then definitely do! It’s still beneficial, don’t let this be an excuse.
And if you’re struggling with your diabetes, a study also found that carrying out a short 30-minute workout before each meal a day can also help to improve glycaemic control in those who are insulin resistant.
What exercises should I do when fitness snacking?
Well, that’s entirely up to you. You can choose to do short workouts at home or in the gym, rather than one long session; whether that’s a class or in the weights or cardio rooms. Or you can choose to focus on tasks that already feature in your every day life; taking the dog for a walk, choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift and even cleaning the house.
Chris Hemsworth recently talked about hit fitness regime. Being both an actor and a family man, time is precious for Chris and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he works hard on his body. Believe it or not though, he usually only dedicates 20 minutes a day, six days a week on his exercise. By doing a Tabata or HIIT workout, he works hard for a short burst and takes a break, before continuing on throughout his sets. So it may be that you do 20 seconds exercise as hard as you can and then rest for 10 seconds. Mix up your workout styles covering off balance, stability and strength, incorporate some weights and don’t stick to the same plan day-in, day-out.
We’re sure Chris is a fan of fitness snacking too though; he’s going to being running around set all day, running around after his children and also surfing the waves as and when he can. Don’t expect a body like Hemsworth without putting in the hours though; he also undertakes intermittent fasting and no doubt put a lot of hours into his body in the first place to get it to where it is and is now merely maintaining it.
Ultimately it’s important to do something. Something is better than nothing.