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  • Writer's pictureJanice Tracey

Off to Snatch an Exercise Snack

Are you a fitbit fiend, a gym gyrator or a walking whizz? Or are you the proverbial weekend warrior, trying to squeeze in a week’s worth of exercise into a 1 or 2 day window?

Formal activity such as the gym, daily walk, HIIT class, yoga, strength exercises etc are all well and good but seriously – fitting it in can be a nightmare. And the guilt when you don’t go is almost as bad as the pizza guilt I used to have.

Government guidelines for activity say 150 mins (2.5 hrs) spread over the week and muscle strength improvement activities twice a week. I am snookered. No way do I get to fit this into my crazily busy life of study, work, more study and seeing clients.

Busy Bee

I love yoga, and used to go 3 times a week. I love hillwalking and used to go once a week. I love the outdoors and used to go for a 30 min lunchtime walk a few times a week. But I’ve let the busyness get in the way. Now I study or see clients in the evening so no yoga. Study or granny duty (labour of love) at the weekend so no hillwalking, catch up on FB at lunchtime while I eat my lunch at my desk so no lunchtime walk. I fool myself into saying I have no time, too busy. But as the Buddha says ‘Meditate every day for 20 mins, unless you are too busy then meditate for an hour.’ And somehow, at least 3 times a week I seem to find time to ‘relax’ for an hour or two catching up on Netflix.

Physically Active V Sedentary Lifestyle

As a society, we are more sedentary than ever in both the workplace and home. Many of us have jobs that involve sitting at a desk all day and a home life filled with labour saving devices. And the current thinking is that even if we are physically active a few times a week, a sedentary work or home life is minimising our chances of reaping maximum benefit.

The British Heart Foundation gives us a few tips:

Try to take regular breaks from looking at a screen. Watching television, get up in every ad break. At work, walk away from your computer at regular intervals.

Stand instead of sitting when you can.Try it for short periods: watching television, in meetings, at a desk or on the phone.

Stand up at work. Walk to colleagues instead of emailing.

Plan in some active time when you are usually sedentary. For example, in the evenings, consider an exercise class, going for a walk or cooking a healthy meal from scratch, instead of heating a ready meal.

Set time limits on sedentary behaviour. It might be that you limit television to an hour in the evening or that you ban yourself from reading emails or using the internet for a certain period in the day. If you have a family, it’s great for everyone to follow these limits.

These are great tips – but we will need to be mindful throughout the day and set some sort of reminders. Anyone with a Fitbit will know about the reminder at ten to the hour (beep, beep on the wrist), every hour to step out for xx amount of steps to hit a 250 step hourly target – that’s another thing I used to take notice of.

Podcast Inspiration

I listened to @BenCoomber podcast this morning, talking with Dr Hazel Wallace @TheFoodMedic about preventative medicine, health care as opposed to sickness care, doctors having a Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach in situ in the surgery – loads of great stuff.

Exercise Snacking

But I was struck with Hazel’s reference to exercise snacking (which has nothing to do with food). It’s about snatching snacks of movement throughout the day. The idea of it made me:) and anything that makes me smile is more likely to stay in my consciousness.

Make a Start

So, I set off for a snack walk before work. 10 minutes didn’t break the time bank, it was a lovely sunny morning and there’s an idyllic riverside path at the bottom of the lane. Win Win Win. I then planned in my exercise snacks for the rest of the day. 10 min morning break walk, 20 min lunch break walk and 20 min right after work walk. Seriously pleased with the 60 minutes my exercise snacking racked up. It was easy, it made me feel good, strong and positive and so next on the agenda is a weekly yoga class after work on a Wednesday and back at my hillwalking once a fortnight. An achievable action plan, together with my snacking and I’m well on my way. the only way to get something done is make a start.

If you’re feeling inspired to make a start, share this blog with friends and family.

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