What is “Fitness Snacking,” and Can It Really Help Productivity?

In the past few months, personal health and immunity has been pushed to the forefront of everyone’s minds. From December 2019 to April 2020, searches of the word “immunity” increased tenfold. In addition to eating healthy and getting enough sleep, many recommend regular exercise as a means of bolstering the immune system. Not only does exercise boost immunity, but it is also shown to reduce stress and even improve productivity.

According to a study by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80% of American adults aged 18-64 don’t exercise enough. Considering exercise’s benefits to one’s personal and work life, then why aren’t more Americans doing it? In a survey by the fitness app Freeletics, 4 in 10 Americans claimed that lack of time was the main barrier to working out.

Enter fitness snacking. This trend involves fitting exercise “snacks” into short intervals of free time (unfortunately, no actual snacks are involved, though healthy snacks are considered to be another great way to sharpen focus and combat fatigue). A new study has shown that short bouts of exercise can be just as beneficial as longer workouts, so long as you meet the 150 minutes of recommended physical activity each week.

There are a plethora of benefits to exercise. One study found that workday exercise made participants 72% more effective at time management and workload completion. Studies in mice found that regular exercise helps slow neurogenesis, meaning that fit older adults will likely stay sharper than their sedentary peers. Furthermore, exercise is shown to make us happier, and happy employees are more productive than their unhappy coworkers (some claim by up to 20%).

For the sake of your health and your productivity, try taking five-minute exercise breaks between meetings, emails or projects. Or, instead of a coffee chat, set up a quick virtual meeting with coworkers to do an at-home workout together. Harvard Health and Health Magazine offer ideas for quick, easy workouts that take 10-minutes or less. Try to fit one of these workouts in a couple times a day; lack of time is no longer an excuse.