Rahul Pahwa, 39, an advertising professional living in Gurugram likes to bicycle on most afternoons. It is his little exercise snack, or snackercise—a short bout of exercise—that he says keeps him fit. The idea is to structure workouts in several short sessions—four or five are recommended—lasting from five to 10 minutes each. Several studies on its benefits suggest that a snackercise may be as good, or even better than traditional workouts.
Snackercise keeps the cardiovascular system strong, builds core strength and balance, and maintains optimal blood sugar levels. It does not require any planning, much time, or gear. “It is the easiest way to keep my head clear too,” says Pahwa.
Every little bit of movement helps, according to experts. These accumulated bouts of exercise positively impact triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, glucose levels and waist circumference, among other things. All you need is a walk around the block, a quick cycling jaunt, a few squats, holding a plank position or even things such as lugging laundry, cleaning your car, mopping a room in your house, or rotating the soil in your pots.
Snackercise became popular last year and the appreciation around it has only grown. Bite-sized workouts are practical. They put off procrastination. Exercise scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, reported in the Canadian Science Publishing that just a 20-second stair climb done a few times over the day can increase your fitness by about five percent in six weeks. This time-efficient strategy works equally well with functional exercises. A National Library of Medicine report concludes that simple bodyweight training with minimal time commitment also enhances cardiorespiratory fitness.
Suba Rajkumari, associated with Physical Mind Institute, New York, and the founder of Pilates Design School that is currently operational virtually, believes in evolving with the changes in the environment. “Some of us do not like to exercise, or our desk-centric jobs make movement difficult. The fundamental idea of exercise is to get the blood flowing and to elevate the heart rate. A safe way to do this is to start moving every hour as this will get the job done. The second addition could be a somatic movement, which is performed consciously to focus on internal experience and not look at the results from movement. This is an excellent way to improve one’s posture because as we all know, posture plays a major role in many kinds of health issues.”
Got a few minutes before you start your day? Stretch at the desk. Got a breather between work calls? Take two water bottles and do some shoulder presses. Sprint down your apartment to collect that food delivery. These are some quick ways to improve your physical markers. It is a well-established fact that blue zone populations may not specifically exercise, they simply move more through the day.
Snackercise offers another important benefit, according to Bengaluru-based Anisha Naidu, a core strength and conditioning trainer. These bite-sized workouts are better for senior citizens, or those recovering from aches and pains, or injuries as they reduce the overall load on the joints. “Short workouts spread through the day increase the heart rate and improve metabolism. And the body pays back by staying in that fat-burning mode for sometime after the workout,” says Naidu.
A 10-minute starter routine
1. Deep inhalations and exhalations cross-legged
2. Neck rotations
3. Arm rotations
4. Butterfly pose
5. Straight planks
6. Knee-to-elbow planks
8. Back extension
9. Chest lift
10. Single leg lift on back extension
By Suba Rajkumari