We worry too much about needing to set aside 30 minutes or more for exercise or movment—the thought being that anything that’s not intense enough or long enough will give us little to no benefit for our efforts. Not true at all. Sure, there are certainly physiological improvements that can only be had by pushing towards ones limits, but is that all that exercise or movement, should be about?
No. There’s a reason why walking is the number one recommended activity, regardless of age or ability. Walking is hardly strenuous, but it’s easy to do and that means that you’re out and moving. The number one priority is simply to move, and move more often. Our bodies do best when they are called on regularly to be in motion, it keeps us mobile and energetic. We really aren’t meant to sit for hours and hours every day—which is why we can feel extra stiff and lethargic from doing just that. So we need to move more, and walking is excellent, but I’m going to propose an additional option: the movement snack (credit for the phrase comes goes to Frank Forencich of Exuberant Animal).
Just like grabbing a snack during the day, movement snacks are similar: taking a break to refuel with movement when the opportunity presents itself.
What defines a movement snack? Beyond the brief nature it’s really up to you.
The conventional and simple thing would be to do a few brief exercises, and that works well (push-ups and squats being a good go-to). For myself I’ll take a break to sit for a few moments in a full squat, randomly practice balance while I’m doing a routine task, or practice a specific skill that’s on my mind, and of course dancing comes with my highest recommendation! The specifics of what you do or for how long are not important, so long as you’re moving. While a few moments to minutes here and there might not seem like much, when you add it all together across days and weeks the time spent moving accumulates quickly.
I bet if you made this into a habit you’d be spending more time, in total, indulging in movement snacks than you do exercising! Intense effort still has it’s place, but filling your days with more movement is a worthy goal on its own.