An article by exercise physiologist, Jennifer Smallridge. 

We might want to limit the amount of food we snack on each day, however recent research has shown that breaking up your workout into bite-sized pieces can be highly effective.

Exercise snacks can be brief, high intensity efforts (such as taking a flight of stairs at a fast pace) or going for short walks during the day (rather than one big one, and then sitting on the couch all day!). Around the house, exercise snacking is a great way to tackle big chores such as gardening or vacuuming by taking breaks in between.

Whether you are working from home, or just want to optimise your health, here are the top reasons why you should try exercise snacks:

Blood sugar control
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or insulin resistance, getting up for a high intensity minute of exercise before each meal has been shown to improve glycaemic (blood sugar) control throughout the day.

Lower blood pressure
Amazingly, going for four 10-minute walks throughout the day have been shown to be just as effective as one 40-minute walk for reducing blood pressure. This could be achieved by parking further away from the shops, taking a short walk during your lunch break, or taking a phone call whilst out walking. 

Increased fitness levels
Studies have also found that short bursts of activity such as stairclimbing a couple of times each day can increase cardiovascular fitness and oxygen uptake after 6 weeks. A great incentive to always take the stairs whenever possible! 

Breaking up sedentary behaviour
Did you know that sitting still for 4 hours decreases blood flow to the brain, more than one year of age-related changes? This is fortunately only a short-term reduction, but the good news is that we can prevent this by getting up and walking for 2 minutes every 30 minutes.

So how exactly do we “snack” on exercise?

  • Getting up during the day as often as possible
  • Taking the stairs wherever possible
  • Parking further away
  • Walking whilst on phone calls
  • Breaking up household chores to be completed over the day
  • Going for a short, brisk walk before or after each meal

Mini Movement Circuit Snack
Use the following exercised to create your own at-home mini movement circuit snack. Beginners start with 10 of each, while those who are more advanced can do up to 30 of each.

  • Sit to stands


  • Heel raises


  • Bridges




By Jennifer Smallridge
Exercise Physiologist, B.Ex&SpSci, M.ClinExPhys, ESSAM, AEP


Francois, M.E., Baldi, J.C., Manning, P.J., Lucas, S.J., Hawley, J.A., Williams, M.J. and Cotter, J.D., 2014. ‘Exercise snacks’ before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance. Diabetologia57(7), pp.1437-1445.
Elley, R., Bagrie, E. and Arroll, B., 2006. Do snacks of exercise lower blood pressure? A randomised crossover trial. Special Series.
Jenkins, E.M., Nairn, L.N., Skelly, L.E., Little, J.P. and Gibala, M.J., 2019. Do stair climbing exercise “snacks” improve cardiorespiratory fitness?. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism44(6), pp.681-684.

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