Movement Snacks Are the Easiest Way to Exercise When It Feels Like You Have Zero Time

In a perfect world we’d all be able to regularly dedicate 45 minutes to working on our fitness. In reality, however, we can barely find the time to finish our work, prepare dinner, get the kids showered, etc., let alone spend almost an hour on a Peloton bike. That’s where movement snacks, or shorter bursts of exercise throughout the day, come in. Rather than spending 45 or 60 straight minutes working out, movement snacks allow you to exercise in increments, making it easier to get your heart rate up without having to block off a bigger chunk of your day. Here’s what you need to know about this wellness trend for busy people (aka everyone).

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photo of a woman exercising at her desk
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What Are Movement Snacks?

Movement snacks refers to breaking up your exercise regimen into smaller movements throughout the day. The fitness experts at the ness, an NYC-based workout for trampoline cardio and muscle sculpting, called it as one of the wellness trends to watch in 2023. Aly Giampolo, the ness’s cofounder and method director, explains, “More and more studies are finding that breaking up your exercise regimen into smaller movement snacks throughout the day is not only perfectly healthy, it can be more beneficial than forcing yourself to do one longer workout. I believe that movement snacks are the key to shifting our general mindset around fitness, letting us find enjoyment and strength without the pressure of carving out a large amount of time. It also lets you take advantage of the endorphin rush that movement gives you, multiple times a day.”

Are Movement Snacks Healthy?

Good news for busy people: They sure are. This 2016 study published in PLOS ONE, for example, found that bite-sized spurts of exercise throughout the day can be just as effective as one long workout. What does this look like in practice? Maybe you do a quick 15-minute yoga video before your morning coffee, take ten minutes out of your lunch break for a walk around the block and then do a few sets of 25 jumping jacks while bingeing The Crown. It doesn’t have to be fancy or official, just a way to consistently move your body throughout the day. 

How Can You Incorporate Movement Snacks Into Your Day?

The best part of a movement snack is that it’s entirely customizable and versatile. You don’t need to be at a gym, you don’t need to be with a trainer—hell, you don’t even need to be wearing workout clothes. A movement snack can be anything from a six-minute inner thigh workout to a brisk walk with the family dog. It’s any kind of physical activity you do throughout the day—no matter how big or small—but if you’re looking for more specific inspo, try one of these methods.

1. Desk Exercises

Sitting at your desk all day, every day can lead to back problems, neck pain and a slew of other health concerns. That’s why we tapped Kellen Scantlebury, Fit Club founder and physical therapist, for these five desk exercises, from a seated torso twist to wrist and finger extensions, so you can get your body moving during your nine-to-five.

2. Park Further from Your Office (or Get Off a Subway Stop Early)

There are a ton of health benefits of walking, from reducing anxiety and depression to weight loss to helping you maintain muscle as you age. It’s also super simple to incorporate more of it into your day. If you drive to work, choose a parking spot furthest away from your building’s entrance. If you commute via train or subway, get off a few stops early and finish your trip on foot. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is another way to up your step count. Plus, stairs never break down.

3. Work Out to Your Favorite Show

We all love a good binge-watch sesh, right? That’s why you should apply a drinking game mindset to your next TV marathon—with bodyweight exercises instead of shots. For example, if you’re watching The Last of Us, do ten squats every time you think, Wow, Pedro Pascal is so ruggedly handsome. Or if you’re more of a Cobra Kai person, do 20 crunches every time there’s a badass fight sequence.

No if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some snacking to do—movement snacking, that is.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...