Stay Active With 5-Minute ‘Fitness Snacks’

Stay Active With 5-Minute ‘Fitness Snacks’
Image: shurkin_son, Shutterstock

A lot of us would like to be more active, but it’s hard to find the time ” especially now, when many of us are combining remote work with full-time childcare.

So what do you do? One option is to set aside 30 to 45 minutes every day (or at least every other day) for a round of workout-from-home bodyweight exercises, but that’s unrealistic for a lot of people. Even if you can squeeze 30 minutes of planks and squats into your schedule (plus the time it might take to shower and/or change clothes afterwards), the whole deal might feel a little too boring and repetitive to be enticing.

At Inc, Jeff Haden suggests solving the problem by breaking up your block of bodyweight exercises into a series of five-minute “fitness snacks.” Ideally, you’d be able to complete these five-minute “snacks” in whatever quarantine-friendly T-shirt and shorts you’re currently wearing (leave your Zoom shirt on the back of your chair), without working up enough of a sweat that it prevents you from moving on with your day.

All you have to do is pick five or six basic exercise moves that fit your current skill level and target various muscle groups ” don’t just do push-ups, ok ” and then do each of those exercises for about five minutes, whenever you feel like you need a little activity boost.

Here’s how Haden divided up a recent workout:

  • Snack 1: Five sets of 20 push-ups (30 seconds rest between sets)
  • Snack 2: Five sets of 15 pull-ups (30 seconds rest between sets)
  • Snack 3: Three sets of 30 air squats (40 seconds rest between sets)
  • Snack 4: Two 2.5-minute planks (20 seconds rest between)
  • Snack 5: Four sets of 20 jumping split squats (20 seconds rest between)
  • Snack 6: 100 burpees (I’m embarrassed to say how long that took)

I know that some of you are thinking “there is no way I’m doing five sets of 20 push-ups right now,” and that’s fine. Do one set of 20 push-ups, or three sets of dance party with your kids.

The key word here is active. If you can fit a handful of “fitness snack” breaks into your day, you not only get a break from work (bonus points if you do your fitness snack without simultaneously staring at a screen) but you also get the mental and physical boosts that often correlate with physical activity. You can use your fitness snacks as a way to grab me-time, or use them to connect with your family. It’s up to you.

And when you’re done, you can go right back into whatever it is you were doing ” because we’re all handling a lot of challenges these days, I know. But if you challenge yourself to be a little more active, five minutes at a time, you might see the benefits reflected in every other area of your life.