Fitness snacking is the latest trend to help you get active

The latest trend to get us more active is called "fitness snacking," which involves squeezing in small bouts of exercise throughout the day.

Sorry, it doesn't mean you get to snack while working out

The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate to high-intensity exercise. (Khaiwhan Pao/Shutterstock)

Only one in five Canadian adults get the recommended amount of weekly physical activity, according to Statistics Canada. But a new trend called "fitness snacking" could help change that.

The idea isn't to snack while working out, but instead to apply the concept of snacking to fitness by squeezing in small bouts of exercise throughout the day.

It was first introduced last year by former U.S. Olympic strength and conditioning coach John Abdo and received a boost recently from British celebrity trainer Matt Roberts.

The "system" includes awarding points for each activity, which could be walking the dog or taking the stairs, and tallying them up at the end of the day. The more vigorous the activity, the more points earned.

Devices and trends aid in "physical literacy"

Edmonton personal trainer Chris Tse says fitness snacking fits into what he already encourages his clients to do: move more during the day to increase caloric burn.

While he's sceptical that it's enough to achieve the 150 minutes per week of moderate to high-intensity exercise recommended by the World Health Organization, he admits it's a good start.

Chris Tse has been a personal trainer for 15 years working with injury rehabilitation and weight loss. (Submitted by Chris Tse)

"It's the person's total lifestyle that we're trying to change. So certainly with things like fitness snacking and Fitbit, I would kind of lump them all in the same area in that they're encouraging people to move more," said Tse. "Hopefully what we're seeing is that these devices and these different trends are allowing people to sort of equip themselves with more physical literacy."

Not enough time for exercise

But Tse says one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is that people think they don't have enough time to go to the gym.

"That is probably the number one concern that everyone has, right? 'How do I fit in 50 or 60 minutes of workouts every single day?' Or 'How do I fit a run in?' Or whatever that looks like," said Tse.

For university student Rochak Pokharel, time is a major factor.

"Finding time for exercising, especially when you're a university student, it's really hard to find time," said Pokharel.

His friend Nianam Ramsamy agrees.

"There's not enough hours in the day to fit everything in," said Ramsamy. "So then you decide, 'Oh, I have two hours to go to the gym.' But then you're like, 'During that two hours I could be going over so and so lectures.'"

From left: Sookyung Jeong, Rochak Pokharel and Nianam Ramsamy. (Jason Osler/CBC)

Tse says it's about setting priorities.

"When you hear about people binging on Netflix and stuff like that, and they're like, 'You know, I can't afford any extra time to go for a 20-minute walk or 30-minute walk.' You know, obviously, it's more about setting people's priorities."

Everything gets better when you get active

Prioritizing fitness is a big part of ParticipACTION's mandate. The national non-profit organization devoted to promoting physical activity, recently launched a new campaign called "Everything Gets Better."

A PSA for the campaign says, "Physical activity improves cognitive function so you can focus better. Everything gets better when you get active."

It's one of many to promote all the different ways exercise can help improve our lives beyond just losing weight, from focusing at work to sleeping better to an improved sex life.

In one of their tweets, a video shows someone taking the stairs instead of the escalator as a way to stay active.

In addition to the PSA's on TV and online, ParticipACTION says a community challenge next spring will encourage Canadians to become more active together.


Jason Osler is the national 'trends' columnist for CBC Radio.


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