Easy exercises to help you get moving

March 21, 2022

High-intensity interval training increases your overall fitness, but it’s not always convenient to change clothes, work up a sweat, and exercise. So researchers at McMaster University set out to find a more convenient way for people to incorporate movement and aerobic exercise into their day.

The researchers found a cohort of healthy but inactive college students and asked them to incorporate two “exercise snacks” throughout the day. These “snacks” consisted of a few jumping jacks, lunges, and squats plus walking as briskly as possible up three flights of stairs. And that was it. The “workout” lasted approximately 30 seconds. By the end of the five-week program, the students had increased their aerobic fitness by 5 percent and showed more leg power while cycling.

How exercise "snacks" help

Finding ways to move is important, even if it’s not a run or a stationary bike ride. Every hour we spend sitting or lying down increases our likelihood of heart-related issues. When we are in a sedentary position, our muscles aren’t engaged sufficiently to help regulate fatty acids in the blood. Meaning that when we are sitting, blood sugar and cholesterol slowly build up in our bloodstreams.

That doesn’t mean we can’t sit around and watch TV at the end of a long day, but it does mean that incorporating more movement into our days can help combat the effects of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

You should still aim for the recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate to vigorous exercise, but try these five easy exercise “snacks” to help keep you moving.

Easy exercise “snacks” to try:

  • Take the stairs: we’ve heard it before but stair climbing is a really easy way to get your heart rate up. Here's why getting your heart rate up is important.
  • Stretch: here’s a six-minute yoga routine you can do at your desk.
  • Jumping jacks or knee taps: place a sticky note next to your computer or set a reminder on your phone to do these twice a day for 30 seconds. Another idea would be to do them before getting in your car to go home for the day.
  • Sweep the house: everyone loves a good "procrasti-clean" right? Sweep or vacuum before sitting down to watch TV or on your lunch break.
  • Fidget: swiveling in your chair, stretching your arms, tapping your feet, or just wiggling around while you’re at your desk can help you stay alert and keep your back muscles engaged.
  • Walk and talk: when you’re catching up with a friend or waiting on hold, go for a walk. Even if it’s just around your house.
  • Resistance bands: these are a great low-impact way to strengthen your muscles and combat the effects of sitting all day. Here's a routine to try.

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