Movement Snacks Can Help You Live Better and Longer

Movement Snacks Can Help You Live Better and Longer

Movement Snacks Can Help You Live Better and Longer

If it’s hard for you to find time to get some exercise, there may be a way to make it easier. Think in terms of small bursts of energy, or movement snacks. Start improving your health by adding a few movement snacks to your day.

It can make you feel better. And some research shows leaving site icon that movement snacking might even help people live longer. One study found that people who get bursts of high energy activity regularly may cut their chance of getting heart disease. The study participants used wearable fitness trackers to measure the health payback of what researchers called “vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity” (VILPA). 

How Does It Work?

To get the health benefits from movement snacks, or VILPA, you should focus on stepping up the pace rather than increasing your time commitment. Aim for 1 minute of intense activity, like walking briskly or climbing stairs, three or four times a day.

The idea of breaking up your day with bits of motion is hardly new. People have long gotten up to stretch after sitting at a computer or walked around the house during the TV commercial breaks. But focusing on short, more intense bursts of exercise effort is different because the aim is to raise your heart rate.

Some ways to get these brisk movement snacks: 

  • Jog in place.
  • Climb stairs.
  • Do some jumping jacks.
  • Take a fast-paced walk or run around the block.
  • Jump on your stationary bike.
  • Hop on a rowing machine.

As with any exercise program, remember to start small and build from there. If you’re new to this type of exercise, be sure to check with your doctor before you begin. 

Track that Movement

Keeping track of your progress is a great way to stay motivated and move more, says the National Institute on Agingleaving site icon You can watch your movement snacks add up and set new goals. You can use a wearable fitness device or keep your own activity log.

To keep your snacking habit going over time, try adding some variety:

  • Break things up. Spread it out through your day and week, says the Mayo Clinic. leaving site icon
  • Get creative. Try a new way to work out or find fun weekend or family activities to include in your menu of snacks.
  • Be flexible. Take a day off when you need to.
Are Snacks Enough?

Adults who do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health payback, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. leaving site icon And studies have shown that movement snacks, or VILPA, do provide significant health benefits.

For more health benefits, you can add some moderate intensity movement to your short bursts of activity each week. For moderate movement, aim for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. Moving your body can help your physical and mental health. And it doesn’t have to be done in long workouts. You can spread it out throughout the week. Even 10 minutes of moderate activity at a time is helpful. It all adds up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaving site icon says regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health. So get started with movement snacks and build up as you go.

Sources: One-minute bursts of activity during daily tasks could prolong your life, finds study, leaving site icon University of Sydney, 2022; Exercise and Physical Activity Tracking Tools, leaving site icon National Institutes on Aging, 2021; Fitness program: 5 steps to get started, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2021; Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, leaving site icon U.S. Department of Human Services, 2023; Benefits of Physical Activity, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022