Nibble on "exercise snacks" to keep active throughout your day

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Did you know that bite-sized "exercise snacks" are as beneficial as many longer workouts? Read on to see how short bouts of activity peppered into your day can provide significant benefits.

Exercise snacks

What are "exercise snacks"?

Simply put, exercise snacks are bite-sized bursts of exercise you do throughout the day. Think of them as small tastes of movement instead of an overwhelming serving. Anything is more manageable in bite-sized portions!

You can fit in an exercise snack wherever you roam since very little space and no equipment are required. These short activities can be spontaneous, planned, or a combination of both.

Mini-workouts can be as tiny as you can imagine. Even a few seconds of stair climbing or marching in place offer benefits. In other words, there are no excuses for not keeping active.

How does exercise snacking benefit you?


There may be days where mini-workouts seem the only practical way to fit in exercise. You may not have time to get changed, drive to the gym, and get in an hour's workout. But you can always find time for a tiny exercise snack, whether you are at home or the office. You are busy, but you can always find a minute to move!

Although the superiority between mini-workouts vs. longer workouts is not yet proven, ultimately, the most effective exercise is the one you actually do.

Blood sugar control

Short bursts of exercise may win out over longer workouts for blood sugar burning. For example, a study involving insulin-resistant people demonstrated that participants showed lower after-meal blood sugar readings following six one-minute exercises performed 30 minutes before each meal, compared to those who exercised 30 minutes in a single session.

A study of individuals with Type 2 diabetes indicated that participants who completed three, 12-minute "bursts" of exercise five days a week showed improved blood sugar and lipids compared to those who did 40 minutes of exercise in a single session five days a week. In other words, those who spent less total time exercising experienced the greater benefit.

Perhaps these more frequent bursts of exercise bring about more significant benefits because they provide more consistent signals to burn blood sugar. It could also be because the exercise snacks require higher intensity in a shorter period than prolonged bouts of exercise.

Increased energy

Understandably, feeling worn out can be a major barrier to getting motivated to work out. Yet moving your body may be exactly what your body needs to get energized. Try a few minutes of movement first, if you think you need a snack or a quick nap to recharge. You may find that getting your heart rate up perks you up best.

Do you feel sluggish after you wake up? Try hitting the ground running, so to speak. Australian researchers demonstrated participants who performed 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise after waking reported feeling more alert.


The tiniest amount of exercise you can commit to may become a powerful foundation for a lasting habit. In his book Tiny Habits, author BJ Fogg describes his commitment to doing two push-ups after every visit to his home's restroom. It developed into a lasting exercise routine.

Consider what tiny exercise habits you can build into your daily routine. What about three lunges every time you walk into the living room? Or two jumping jacks after brushing your teeth in the morning?

Get moving with these exercise snacks

Options for exercise snacks are limitless, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Set a timer on your smartwatch or phone as a reminder to get up and move every 30 minutes.
  • Do ten jumping jacks.
  • Climb two or three flights of stairs.
  • Jog in place for a few minutes.
  • Jump rope, or try a cordless jump rope if limited on space (or coordination).
  • Challenge your family or friends to a quick game of tag.
  • Walk briskly around the house during TV commercial breaks.
  • Try this 7-minute standing workout.
  • Add a minute or two of speed walking, or seek out hills during your daily walk.
  • Dance to a favorite energizing song. Check out The Fitness Marshall on YouTube for some fun moves and inspiration.
  • Roll a pair of "fitness dice" and complete the exercise prompt that surfaces to add variety and surprise. You can access free printable activity cubes here.

Most importantly, keep it fun and interesting, so you can make exercise snacking a regular part of your daily menu!

Related content

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5 Calorie-burning exercises you can do at home to boost energy and burn fat!
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Exercise->Aerobic & Cardio Exercise->Tips
Feb 16, 2022
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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