Angela returned to me feeling disappointed that she hadn’t been able to stick to the 10-15 minute exercise routine we’d developed to help her lower back pain and start to build some strength.
She came to me initially, eager to get rid of this problem and had thought a small program like this would be easy to fit in.
Unfortunately, she felt like she’d stumbled at the first block. I reassured her that her situation was not unusual.
Juggling a new full time job and looking after her young children meant free time was find for Angela.
We chatted for some time about her rehab options and we came do the conclusion that she needed to take an “exercise snacking” approach.
Now before you get out the biscuits and chips to eat whilst you exercise, let me explain.
For Angela, it was going to be much more practical to insert small chunks of exercise into her day. This could be a couple of back stretches during her work breaks, some squats whilst heating up her lunch or walking briskly in small 5 minute blocks.
The good news for Angela was that as long as the amount of of her movement was enough to reach her goals- she could still benefit from increased flexibility, strength, fitness and more!
Watching Michael Mosely’s “Trust me I’m a Doctor” a few weeks ago informed me of the multiple benefits of exercise snacking. In his experiment, the same participants did either one 30 minute walk or an accumulated 30 minutes of walking, in 5 minute chunks on separate days whilst eating the same diet.
On either of the exercise days, the participants showed reduced levels of blood sugar and fat levels, on average a reduction of 40%! High levels of either of these can be a risk factor for diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
A recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine also showed that even small amounts of daily exercise can help to reduce risk of death from heart disease, cancer or any cause. Another strong reason for all of us to keep moving in any way possible.
For added benefit, you can adopt the strategy of HIIPA (High Intensity Incidental Physical Activity), the more relaxed brother of popular HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training). And whilst I struggle to pronounce it, I fully support it’s concept. In the paper, researchers concluded that participants could engage in even very small chunks of high intensity exercise (think huffing and puffing) and still gain many of the advantages!
So make sure you get your exercise snacks in through the day! If you’re struggling with time or commitment to a program- work with your physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to develop a program that suits your life and preferred style of exercise.
Remember, any move is a good move!
If you want to read more about options for incidental exercise- check out Sarah’s blog from last year.
Happy snacking to all!