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Fitness

Bite-sized exercise – Why it improves your metabolism throughout the day

by Samantha Lewis · May 02, 2021 · 2 minute read

The term ‘exercise snacking’ may fool you into thinking you’re going to be eating a cookie mid-workout. However, it actually involves doing bite-sized portions of exercise throughout the day. Here we find out how shorter bursts of movement can be highly effective at boosting metabolism.

Woman measuring metabolism+

What is bite-sized exercise?

Bite-sized exercise, also known as ‘exercise snacking’, is the act of doing small chunks of movement throughout the day. This could be a quick 10-20 minute workout before meals or something as simple as standing up and stretching at your desk.

These more manageable bursts of exercise are great for busy schedules. And the best bit? You don’t have to slog it out for hours at the gym to get your recommended amount of exercise, which current guidelines say should be at least 150 minutes per week for an adult.

What effect does it have on metabolism?

Daily exercise is one of the best ways to improve metabolic flexibility, which is the body’s ability to switch between carbs and fats as a fuel source.

Physical activity stimulates multiple mechanisms related to better insulin sensitivity, improved fat oxidation, and mitochondrial quantity and function, which is a potent stimulus for increasing metabolic flexibility.

The benefits of a flexible metabolism include:

  • Easier weight loss and maintenance
  • Enhanced performance during workouts and build lean mass
  • Lower risk of developing obesity, diabetes and metabolic disorders

Research suggests exercise accumulated during the day can have the same positive effects on metabolic health as exercising in a single bout. So, if it suits your schedule better, why not give it a go?

How to plan a day of bite-sized exercise

7am: Start your day with an energizing 20-minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout.

Fact* Lumen found, based on data from over 1 million metabolism measurements, 60% of HIIT workouts resulted in shifting the body from carb to fat burn. This was 25% higher than running, and almost triple recreational sports such as volleyball.

BREAKFAST

1pm: Go for a lunchtime stroll with your dog or to the grocery store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator to boost your step count.

Tip* Breathe into your Lumen to find out what and when to eat to fuel your workout. You can also log the type and duration of your exercise in the app.

LUNCH

3pm: Time for a tea break. Hold a plank for one minute while you wait for the kettle to boil.

DINNER

8pm: Do some gentle yoga or stretching to help wind your body down before bed.

References

  • The Effects of Continuous Compared to Accumulated Exercise on Health: A Meta-Analytic Review, Murphy, M.H., Lahart, I., Carlin, A. et al. Sports Med 49, 1585–1607 (2019)
  • High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol, Shigenori Ito, World J Cardiol. 2019 Jul 26; 11(7): 171–188
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Samantha Lewis