Everyone will read the title and think I am talking about a healthy snack you can have before or after exercise, but what I am really talking about is your ability to use exercise
s just like you would a snack. Throughout the day if a rumble emerges in your belly you may reach down for a small apple of a handful of nuts, especially if you lack the time to have a full healthy meal.
Throughout a busy day we are not as active as we were fifty or even a hundred years ago, but we are still consuming on average more calories than our recent ancestors. We combat this by joining the gym, doing at least 30-60mins of exercise 3-5 times per week and eating a healthy diet. However, just like a healthy snack between meals, we can be smart about how we move throughout the day. Those in the fitness industry have known for a while that NEPA (non-exercise physical activity – the amount of activity you do outside of the gym) – is equally important to the overall fitness, health and caloric expenditure of everyday life. This is where the idea of exercise snacking comes into play, by increasing your non-gym activity you can drastically improve your health markers.
I live on the third-story in a five-story building so it left me thinking that I could wait for an elevator each time I need to go to my apartment, or I can snack on “exercise” and use the stairs a couple of times a day (even after the heavy leg day!). These little short bursts of activity have amazingly really added to the overall conditioning of my body and helped strengthen up a couple of lagging muscle groups.
Studies on stair climbing showed that it quickly improves cardiorespiratory fitness, reduces arterial stiffness and lowers resting blood pressure as well as improves leg strength. One study even showed that living in a two-story house helps the average person live longer.
Exercise snacking isn’t just limited to climbing stairs but can include doing squats in the kitchen while meal prepping or pushups in front of the TV while you are streaming your favourite show on Netflix. These snacks can be done at work, simply by walking a few laps of the office while reading your next set of board papers or having a walking meeting with your team about an upcoming project.
Exercise snacks will help improve fitness, health and overall wellbeing of the body. So next time when waiting for the lift, how about you have yourself a little snack and take the stairs.
- Elizabeth M. Jenkins, Leah Nicole Nairn, Lauren E. Skelly, Jonathan P. Little, Martin J. Gibala. Do Stair Climbing Exercise "Snacks" Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness? Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2019
- Brendan M. Duggan, Lewis G. Halsey, David A. R. Watkins. The Energy Expenditure of Stair Climbing One Step and Two Steps at a Time: Estimations from Measures of Heart Rate. Department of Life Sciences, University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom, 2012
- Colin A.G. Boreham Ph.D. William F.M. Wallace M.D. Alan Nevill Ph.D. Training Effects of Accumulated Daily Stair-Climbing Exercise in Previously Sedentary Young Women. School of Biomedical Sciences, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom. 2002