When Delhi-based freelance artist Chandana Singh joined a gym, her goal was clear: to become fit. “As my job involves long hours of sitting, I thought the gym would be the panacea to my sedentary woes. I, however, quit in a month as an hour of exercising every day became exhausting.” Singh then turned to a colleague, also a health enthusiast, who told her about movement snacking.
Intrigued, she approached a fitness trainer to get on with a regime.
“I started with five-minute snack exercises, pacing them throughout the day at an interval of 30-45 minutes. My day would start with jumping jacks. Push-ups, on-the-spot jogging, lunges and squats were done before 3 pm. In the evening, I would do exercises such as climbing a fleet of stairs, a five-minute brisk walk and weights,” says Singh, who saw the biggest difference in mood and energy. Both became better and she was able to focus at work too. In about 30 days, she dropped four kg.
The big draw
Snack exercise can be done anywhere, anytime, irrespective of age. The exercise schedule can be structured keeping your needs and ability in mind. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or gear (unless you want to include weights or equipment).
Start today. Even better, start now.
These bouts of easy-to-perform workouts are not only time-efficient but also versatile. You can do a new set of exercises every day. “Ideally, a mix of low, medium and high-intensity exercises have maximum impact, but sticking to any combination—low and moderate, just low or just moderate is also beneficial,” says Bengaluru- based fitness trainer Kevin Lobo.
“You can even stick to one or two forms of exercises a day, say walk a few times and do squats a few times or you can throw in seven or eight different exercises to make things fun,” he shares.
Walking up and down a flight of stairs is great for proper cardiovascular function. Doing calf raises, while sitting on a chair, will not only strengthen the calf muscles but also lead to better ankle stability and mobility. You can also throw in hip abduction, an exercise where the leg is moved away from the midline of the body, for muscle activation and better leg performance.
“Air squats are an effective way to strengthen hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes, improving overall muscle endurance. Push-ups are a good way to protect yourself from injuries, especially of the shoulders and lower back, as it strengthens the shoulders and back while improving balance and posture. Planks are another quick exercise that builds core strength and improves metabolism and mental endurance too.
Do five repetitions of each or for the easier ones, do them for a minute each,” says Lobo. You can club a few exercises if you’re short on time.
“An example of a high-impact snack workout is a 10-15-minute routine of squats, followed by pushups, lunges and calf raise, done in a circuit lasting 30 seconds to one minute, each undertaken with a few seconds of rest. Good for the heart, muscle function and flexibility, this one is an all-rounder,” says Ashish Kaushik, co-founder, of YOS Sports Health, formerly the head physiotherapist of the Indian cricket team and the National Cricket Academy.
Observing the ever-changing needs of your body is equally important, according to Robin Behl, co-founder, of The Tribe. “Look at yourself carefully in the mirror and check your posture. Try to gauge the part that feels tense. Release the stress with conscious spine work with simple stretches.”
While snack exercise is a flexible, creative and effective approach to working out, it has to be done while paying attention to one’s nutritional needs. Edwina Raj, senior dietician, at Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru, says, “Exercise snacking has proven benefits in improving muscle health among older adults, provided there is adequate intake of food, especially protein source. This will help burn fat and build muscle. These short bursts of exercise are as effective as long, sweaty workouts in improving sleep, balancing hormones and maintaining body composition.”
Do it at the office
You can do this effective five-minute coordination drill at work. Pick any five exercises from spinal waves, wall sits, seated calf raises, standing calf raises, wrist rotation, wall push-ups or wall squats, neck rotations or scapula elevation and perform them for a minute each without a break. “This will get ease stiffness and boost endurance,” says Kaushik. Every small step taken can improve your health.
Ready to take a bite of this wonderful snack?
Get Down to it
Three sets of 20 rounds of each, done five times a day
● Wrist rotations
● Toe taps
● Knee lifts
● Side bends
● Heel lifts
Five sets of 30 rounds of each, done seven times a day
● Shoulder openers
(hold a bottle to add weight)
● Reverse fly
● Side-leg lift
● Running in place
● Chair squats