Keep your heart healthy: 5 “exercise snacks” you can make every day

Keep your heart healthy: 5 “exercise snacks” you can make every day

Have a busy schedule and need a more practical way to exercise? Then, exercise snacks or short bursts of intense exercise intermittently throughout the day can be a game changer. In fact, short bursts of intense exercise throughout the day have the same benefits as longer workouts.

Sports snacks may also have some heart-healthy benefits. Research shows that 1 or 2 minutes of vigorous exercise at intervals throughout the day can improve heart health by increasing cardiovascular fitness. Exercise snacks replicate the benefits of high-intensity interval training, but your rest periods are longer. In other words, instead of exercising for 20 or 30 minutes, you can do these exercises throughout the day according to your schedule. For example, if you take a 15-minute break at work, you can squeeze in some exercise during that time.

A British study found that people who participated in vigorous intermittent physical activity (1 to 2 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a day) had a 38% to 40% lower risk of developing cancer or other causes. The study also found that participants reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 48 to 49 percent. Another study looked at how exercise snacks improved muscle function in healthy older adults. As a result, their leg muscle strength and size improved during the 28-day program. So no matter your age or fitness level, you can reap all the benefits of sports snacks.

If you don’t have time for an hour of daily exercise, try eating some exercise snacks so you can still get the heart-healthy benefits. Here are some ideas to get you started and are easy to do anywhere throughout the day.

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walk the stair

woman exercising on stairs woman exercising on stairs

Climb the stairs throughout the day and take advantage of exercise snacks to support heart health.

Getty Images/Guido Meese

If you live in an apartment building, have stairs in your home, or stairs are part of your commute, use them to get your heart rate up. When you have time, aim for vigorous stair climbing throughout the day. One study showed that patients with coronary artery disease improved after climbing three rounds of 6, 12-step stairs followed by a walking recovery period. The study compared the effects of stair climbing and traditional moderate-intensity exercise on participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness.

The researchers found that during the first four weeks of supervised testing, stair climbers had a higher percentage of their heart rate during shorter periods of exercise. However, both groups continued their daily exercise routine without supervision for eight weeks and managed to maintain heart rate level percentages. The difference was that stair climbers spent less time continuing to exercise. So if climbing stairs is the most exercise you can do in a day, you might as well do it intentionally.

go out for a walk

woman walking dog woman walking dog

Walking is a great way to supplement your exercise snacks during the day. Make sure to pick up your walking pace to get your heart pumping.

Getty Images/Luis Alvarez

A brisk walk can keep your heart healthy. The Heart Foundation recommends walking for 30 minutes every day. Another way to achieve your walking goal is to do it for 10 minutes three times a day to get the same benefits. Just make sure it’s moderate to vigorous exercise so your heart rate gets up.

self-weight exercises

Man doing bodyweight lunges Man doing bodyweight lunges

Getting up from your desk and doing any bodyweight exercise is another exercise snack that can make you stronger and healthier.

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If you work in an office or at home, you likely spend a lot of time sitting. Taking the time to move, even with some quick bodyweight exercises, can do wonders for your heart health. Set an interval timer and try bodyweight squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, bear crawls, planks, and more while you’re taking a break at your desk.

jump rope

Woman skipping rope Woman skipping rope

Reconnect with your inner child to improve your heart health with jump rope.

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Sometimes, getting in touch with your inner child is an effective way to get motivated to exercise. Jumping rope is a fun way to get your heart rate up while improving your cardiovascular health in a short period of time. One idea suggested by Nike Master Trainer Joe Holder is to pick up a jump rope and jump for five rounds of one minute each, adjusting the intensity or type of jumps. The more your cardio improves, the more you can increase your workout time to keep yourself challenged.

do some housework

Man vacuuming carpet Man vacuuming carpet

Chores count as workout snacks, so it’s a good idea to keep your heart and your home in tip-top shape.

Getty Images/Bamboo Productions

Believe it or not, you can get a good workout by doing some housework. Whether you’re gardening, vacuuming, cleaning, or organizing your home, you can benefit from exercise while keeping your life in order. It goes to show you that you don’t need to go to the gym to work out, especially when a lot of daily activity is important that you may not realize.

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