In this episode of The Feel Good Effect, we’re talking about exercise snacking, little bursts of movement throughout the day. We’ll dive into how to feel good effect your exercise routine and I’ll tell you why ten-minutes of movement actually matters.

Why You Need to Be Exercise Snacking

This episode is brought to you by my book, The Feel Good Effect, available here.

When we talk about feel good effecting anything, one of the places we need to start with is small shifts.

We don’t always have to go big or go home- we can stick with it and make change sustainable and joyful.

We often overlook the power of these small shifts.

Exercise snacking: What is it?

Exercise snacking is a real thing, studied for a few years now, simply meaning exercising in short bursts throughout the day. 

It’s not having a snack while working out, it is applying the concept of snacking to your workout.

To me, this is the actual antidote to go big or go home.

The research behind it
  1. A 6-week study showed that stair climbing a couple of times a day (at 60 stairs), improved health and built strength.
  2. Another study found that dosing exercise (aka exercise snacks) before meals is a way to improve blood sugar stability.
  3. Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that the lack of physical activity, or the sedentary lifestyle, is a more significant health risk than being overweight or obese.

We focus so much on the size of a person as a measure of health, but it’s really not the best measure.

We do know that a lack of movement is very detrimental.

The WHO recommends 150-minutes of exercise per week, which can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be all at once.

The point: move your body in a way that is sustainable and feels good.

Barriers to exercise snacking

When it comes to health, wellness, and exercise, we often think in the striving mindset.

This comes from the research around the ways our brains are wired and patterns reinforced over time that actually hold us back.

Pause and pay attention to your mindset and beliefs around exercise.

  • What was the approach to movement from the people who cared for you?
  • What was modeled? 
  • How was it talked about?
  • Were you in organized sports? 
  • How did coaches and fellow athletes talk about movement?
  • If you are in adulthood now, how did adulthood shape your thoughts and beliefs around exercise?

Pausing and paying attention to your mindset and beliefs really matter when it comes to change; if you don’t think 10 minutes really matters, you’re not going to do it.

The striving mindset and exercise snacking

Whether it’s exercise snacking, or some other part of wellness or life, what’s often standing in the way is the striving mindset: Perfectionism, all or nothing thinking, comparison.

Reason #1: There is a pervasive belief that the only reason to exercise is to burn calories or change the shape of your body.

If this mindset prevents you from engaging in 10-minutes of exercise bursts, you’re depriving yourself of changing your body from the inside out

If you have time to do an hour and you love it, do that, but many do not. 

So instead of giving up, embrace this idea of exercise snacking.

Reexamine and rewire the narrative around what counts.

Reason #2: There are stories we tell ourselves about what counts, if it’s not an hour it doesn’t count, or if it’s not performative it doesn’t count. 

These are based on the way our brains are wired as well as things we have learned over the years.

Reason #3: This thought that you need a certain type of equipment, certain clothes, need to be in a certain place, need to get super sweaty.

There are a lot of lies we tell ourselves that we need in order to move.

While I might like to have some of those be the case, I don’t need it in order to move.

Tactical tips: A mindset shift
  1. Pause and pay attention to the way that you’re thinking.
  2. Notice when any of these come up, and you’ll notice that is the thing that stops you from moving.
  3. Then you can flip the script and realize that you can, in fact, move for 10-minutes.
Tactical tips: Routine and habits

If you are wanting to add exercise snacking into your day, I would encourage you to develop some sort of exercise snacking routine.

Habits fit into routines, which make up your days, which make up your life.

Habits and routines podcast episodes:

It doesn’t have to be super rigid, because 5- or 10-minutes can happen a lot easier than an hour.

‘This’ and ‘that’

Think about ‘this’ and ‘that’: pairing two things together.

For example, when I close my laptop for lunch (this), I will do a 10-minute workout (that).

Pairing exercise snacking with something already in your routine will allow you to find more success.

Remember joy

Do not leave joy out of your exercise snacking routine.

So antithetical to the wellness and exercise industries, there’s a lot of people talking about the burn, suffer, and sacrifice and very few talking about finding a little joy along the way.

But if you don’t find even a little joy in it, you won’t do it for long.

So make it your own. 

Customize everything.

Ideas and inspo

Exercise snacking can be anything from an online workout platform to going on a walk, or maybe it’s adding something like bringing your pet on a walk or sending voice memos to friends while you walk or listen to part of a podcast episode.

You can do squats, burpees, a workout in your living room, and blast the music you love.

you can do something calming like a yoga or stretching sequence.

You can run up and down a flight of stairs.

Find something you really enjoy (or at least don’t hate) and start incorporating small bursts throughout your day.

My favorite ways to exercise snack

Note: exercise snacking is free. You do not need to pay for anything or need any special equipment.

My number one favorite way is walking.

I do most of my walking in under 20-minutes.

The goal: get out and move.

Two of my other favorite ways:

  • My Peloton bike hack and a 20-minute spin class
  • A 10- to 20-minute pilates class from The Balanced Life (use robyn20 for $20 off any membership)

Another is just moving on my yoga mat in a way that feels intuitive.


Feel Good Effect Book

How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike

The Balanced Life Pilates online (use discount code “robyn20” for $20 off during enrollment)

other feel good effect episodes you’ll love

How to Stop Overthinking Movement

The Joy Equation: How to Use Exercise for More Happiness, Hope, Connection & Courage with Kelly McGonigal, PhD

Feel Good Effect Q&A: Meals, Mindset, Movement

The Secret to Finding Time for Exercise with Robin Long, The Balanced Life

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