Breaking Up Your Workout Into ‘Snacks’ Could Help You Get Fitter

Taking the stairs feels hard, but let’s face it: We’re talking about less than a minute of work. Is that really enough time to improve your fitness?

According to a new study, yes. Research out of McMaster University suggests that intervals of rapid stair climbing—even for just a few minutes—can improve cardiorespiratory fitness.

How “Snacks” Could Help Your Fitness

In the study, researchers recruited 24 young, sedentary adults to study the effects of exercise “snacks” on peak oxygen uptake, a measurement used to determine aerobic capability during an intense exercise, to see whether that could combat the biggest excuse that many individuals give for not exercising: lack of time.

The researchers assigned half to a “stair-climbing intervention” program, and the other to a non-training control group. Those in the first group sprinted up a three-flight staircase three times per day, three times per week, for six weeks.

These sprints were done with at least an hour between sessions, and involved a dynamic warmup of 10 jumping jacks, 10 air squats, and five lunges on each side before sprinting.

At the end of six weeks, those in the workout snacks group performed better in cycling tests, and showed higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, compared to the control group. (It’s also possible, the researchers noted, that the warmup may have played a part to, since that could have contributed to a leg-strengthening effect).

Is This Only Good For Beginners?

Could these gains help people who are already athletic, though?

The strategy of creating regular workout snacks is a good way to start getting fit, but you probably won’t achieve the same level of benefits if you’re already highly active, according to study lead author Martin Gibala, Ph.D., chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University.

“My sense is more active individuals would not experience the same benefits, but sprint snacks could nonetheless serve as effective ‘preventive maintenance’ doses of activity,” he told Runner’s World. “In other words, you could maintain fitness, but not necessarily boost it.”

Whether you’re looking to incorporate snacks as a couch-to-5K starting point, or just wanting to maintain an already robust fitness level during times when your schedule doesn’t allow your regular workouts, Gibala noted that the strategy employed by researchers—sprinting up flights of stairs—is an ideal way to maximize your workout snacking.

“Generally speaking, stair climbing is more metabolically taxing than brisk walking, and induces greater stress on the cardiorespiratory system, which promotes a greater response,” he said.

From: Runner’s World US

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