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What is exercise snacking? (And should you be doing it)

I’m a big fan of snacking. Big fan. And undoubtedly you would have heard all about the benefits of breaking down your day into smaller meals, rather than three big sittings. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite a snack story post, but about another interesting concept…exercise snacking. Research suggests that just a few minutes every day of exercise in the home can lead to marked improvements in muscle mass and strength in older adults. This is set against a backdrop where over 50s start to lose around 1% of their muscle mass every year.

This loss accelerates once we hit 60 and can be dramatically increased if people find themselves inactive for periods of time, including through stays in hospital. Without sufficient muscle strength we struggle to move around and accomplish day to day tasks – which is why strength often dictates how long someone in later life can continue to live independently.

Trust Me’s Dr Zoe Williams explains: “The problem of muscle loss in later life is something that I come across a lot in my older patients, particularly when they’ve emerged from an illness or stay in hospital, and I’ve seen first-hand how it can affect their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and live independently. That’s why I was so excited to find out about the research conducted by Oly Perkin and his colleagues at the University of Bath.

“What really impressed me about this study was the scale and speed of the progress made by the participants – in just 4 weeks they were able to rebuild the same amount of muscle that people at that age naturally lose in the course of 1 - 2 years – that’s a massive improvement.

“What’s more, standing up out of a chair is something that anyone can do anytime, anywhere for free – all you need is a chair! I’ll certainly be telling my older patients about this research and will be prescribing them sit-to-stand exercises as the single best thing they can do to prolong their strength and independence."

Try these free and easy home-based exercises - which could help you build or maintain muscle mass, positively impacting health, prolonging independence, and potentially helping the NHS save money on care of older adults.

What are you waiting for? Get snacking!

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