Why to make time in your day for ‘exercise snacks’!

It’s well established even the tiniest bouts of exercise can boost health, with ‘incidental exercise’ – also known as ‘micro’ or ‘lifestyle exercise’ – a good example. Typically, these are short sessions of physical activity, usually performed for a few minutes every hour. Now more research suggests that even intervals of stair climbing that last just a few minutes, with recovery periods between, can improve cardiorespiratory health.

The research team wanted to find out if 10 minutes of sprint interval training might improve cardiorespiratory fitness – the ability of the heart, lungs, and vascular system to deliver oxygen-rich blood to working muscles. Health benefits include better cardiovascular health, improved insulin resistance, and a lower risk of premature death. In the study, 12 sedentary young participants climbed just three flights of stairs three times a day, with 1–4 hours of recovery between sessions. A control group did no exercise. After doing this only three times a week for just six weeks the stair climbing participants showed a marked improvement in fitness compared to the control group.

So instead of snacking on a doughnut, try some ‘exercise snacking’ by climbing a few flights of stairs on breaks across the day. It seems to be all it takes to boost health and fitness in people who are otherwise sedentary.

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