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The Power of Exercise Snacks

The Power of Exercise Snacks
A quick break from writing for a 15-minute ruck in the desert.

Why mini workouts across a day are so good for you.

You’ll learn: A different way to approach exercise, how to schedule exercise to fit your lifestyle and still get the same (or better!) results, a bunch of research-backed effective ways to fit exercise snacks into your life.


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Now onto today’s post …

We recently confronted traditional bed-making wisdom to create a healthier morning routine. Or, at least, a bed that is less infested with bugs.

Today, we’re reframing another part of many of your routines: the continuous workout session.

When we say “continuous workout session,” we’re talking about the standard, hour or so you spend at the gym, in a yoga class, on a run, etc.

It feels strange to think of exercising any other way. But that’s only because of how we now think of exercise.

Today we’ll cover:

  • The origins of “exercise.”
  • The fitness opportunities we now have due to a very recent change in exercise.
  • The fascinating research on mini workouts, called “exercise snacking.”
  • The rules for getting the most from exercise snacking and how to fit the concept into your overall health routine.
  • The fascinating and surprising research of exercise snacking.
  • A bunch of mini-workout ideas.

Let’s roll …

The origins of exercise

In short

Exercise became a popular new concept after the Industrial Revolution.

The details

“Exercise,” physical activity for the sake of it, is a rather new phenomenon. In the past, survival required that we be physically active most of the day.

But after the industrial revolution, we began offloading our physical work onto machines.

Our jobs began shifting from fieldwork to factory work to office work.

We got all kinds of devices that did physical labor for us. For example, washing machines. Or industrially-made foods, like bread and tortillas. Before this, for example, grinding wheat was a daily, back-breaking chore for 20 percent of Americans, and Mexican women spent an average of five daily hours grinding corn.

Offloading physical labor was a good thing overall. For example, with pre-made bread and tortillas, women became less bound to the kitchen and could spend their newfound time pursuing something else.

But it did have unintended consequences. In the 1940s, research began showing that our reduction in activity was taking a toll on our health.

To offset the health downsides of inactivity, we invented exercise: Physical activity for the sake of it.

We constructed special, controlled environments to recoup our lost movement. We called them gyms. People began running just to run.

We started seeing exercise as something distinct from “normal” life, something we do for X amount of time Y amount of days a week and under Z conditions.

The next big change in exercise