If you don’t have time to exercise, welcome to the club. (I do exercise a lot, but some days I get overwhelmed by how much time and effort it takes to commit to an entire workout done in gym clothes at a specific place and time.) A way around this: the exercise snack.
This is a snack-sized portion of exercise: a walk around the block, a set of pushups at the office when nobody’s looking, installing a doorway pullup bar and doing a rep or two whenever you walk through.
What good is a snack? Well, it depends on what the rest of your exercise routine looks like, if you even have one. If you currently do nothing, snacks are a good way to ramp up toward a full exercise habit. If you’ve been taking a break from working out, the snacks might whet your appetite enough to make you miss the gym. And even if you currently work out on a regular schedule, snacks are still nutritious and delicious, metaphorically speaking.
The beauty of the snack is the lack of commitment. You don’t have to change your clothes, because you’re probably not going to work up a sweat. You don’t have to psych yourself up for multiple exhausting sets of dumbbell work if you only plan to do ten reps and then put the dumbbells down and go back to your computer.
I snacked my way back into exercising a few years ago, after having a baby got me out of the gym habit. Now look at me. I still have a pair of dumbbells on my porch and a pull-up bar in a doorway, and I’ll snack on them from time to time. I even took a walk around the block before writing this story. So give snacks a try, because exercise doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.
This article has been updated since its original publication.