exercise snacking

Exercise Snacking – An Introduction


After the over-indulgence of the festive season, January is the time when many of us start hunting high and low for the most effective and innovative health regimes. Of course, by now we are all well aware of the many essential benefits that exercise brings, but as health experts continue to introduce new, non-traditional forms of fitness, many of us are saying goodbye to boring gym and jogging sessions.

One of the latest exercise trends which is set to become a big hit in 2017 is exercise snacking. Contrary to what its name may suggest, exercise snacking doesn’t involve munching bags of crisps and chocolate bars on the treadmill. Instead, it works by taking brief bouts of intense exercise- or ‘snacks’- throughout the day.

Exercise snacking is steadily increasing in popularity as it works much better for many people than a long, continuous work-out session. Scientists have now caught on to this fitness trend and launched a study into the benefits of exercise snacking. The surprising results of this study have shown that these snack-sized sessions can control blood sugar levels better than traditional, long forms of exercise.


The Study

The investigation into exercise snacking was carried out by scientists at New Zealand’s University of Otago. Two groups of participants were observed with, one group carrying out six separate sets of 30-second, high-speed sprints while the second group performed 30 minutes of non-stop, moderate exercise.

The study found that the group which partook in short bursts of exercise snacking experienced an average 12% reduction in blood sugar after meals. The group that took 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise did not show any improvement to their blood sugar levels.

This is hugely significant news for diabetes prevention and could also prove important for the treatment of many other health issues including heart conditions and obesity.


A New Way of Exercising

One of the great things about exercise snacking is that you don’t need to worry if you don’t have high-end gym equipment to hand or even a gym membership. Anyone anywhere can engage in these short, intense bursts of exercise, also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

If a form of exercise rapidly raises your heart rate and leaves you breathless and sweating for at least a minute after you’re done, it can be considered a highly successful exercise snack. If you’re used to working out by running, weight training or squatting for long periods at a time, you can substitute your usual regime for a HIIT alternative.

Try sprinting at top speed for 30 seconds at a time, doing deep squats with weights, or heart-racing cardio activities such as burpees and lunges. The aim is to exert yourself to your absolute maximum ability and maintain that level for no longer than a minute at a time. You’ll find yourself feeling the effects long after the workout has finished and soon you’ll be burning fat faster than ever.


The Health Benefits of Exercise Snacking

The recent revelation that exercise snacking could be the best workout to control blood sugar means that this new trend could help the fight against diabetes. This debilitating- and often deadly- condition is one of the fastest growing diseases and currently affects more than 4 million people in the UK alone.

High blood glucose levels is a major cause of type 2 diabetes, which is why identifying ways to keep it under control is essential. However, this isn’t the only health benefit of exercise snacking.

The reason HIIT has become such a widespread trend among fitness fanatics worldwide is that it ensures everyone gets the maximum benefit from their workouts.

Research has shown just how much HIIT, which gives the metabolism a mega-boost while burning a whole load of calories along the way, can help with weight loss.

Exercise snacking increases the post-workout fat burn at a higher rate than endurance exercise. It also extends oxygen-intake after exercise and works to boost metabolism by multiplying cell mitochondria more than alternative forms of fitness.


Is Exercise Snacking Right For You?

This groundbreaking form of high intensity interval training is a great option for many people who intend to lower their blood sugar levels, lose weight, tone up and improve their all-round health. However, it is always very important to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regime- especially one as extreme as exercise snacking.

In addition to this, experts don’t advise that you give up slow burning, moderate exercise altogether once you opt for exercise snacking. As endurance and HIIT training both work very differently in the body, both forms of exercise have their own health benefits.

For more information about which exercise is right for you, the NHS Choices website has some very useful resources.