The science is not surprising, and teaches us that with small workouts throughout the day can improve our fitness and our health, plus the ability to keep our blood sugar stable.
The “exercise-snack”, the new healthy fitness that comes to help us survive the “new tobacco of the 21st century”: sitting 8 hours a day in marathon workdays. Discover in this article how to incorporate this method into your daily work routine.
How much physical activity do adults from 19 to 64 have to do to stay healthy? According to the NHS (National Health Service of the United Kingdom) it is important to record on fire that to stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic exercises and strength exercises. We must force ourselves to try to be active daily with the following healthy recipe:
First, with aerobic exercise. Perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking each week. One way to tell if you are working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can not sing the words of a song.
But it is not the only way to do it, if you have less time you can perform 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, like running or playing individual tennis every week. If you are working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without stopping to breathe.
Anyway, if you ask me for my professional recommendation, I advise you the “aerobic gazpacho”, a mixture of moderate and vigorous weekly aerobic activity. For example, two 30-minute races, plus 30 minutes of fast walking, will be equivalent to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity.
Second, strength exercises on two or more days a week, and work on all major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
There is good evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits above moderate activity (NHS, 2015).
Third, the recipe remains incomplete if we forget that all adults should break the long periods of sitting with a light activity.
Sitting: The new tobacco of the 21st century
What many people do not realize is that performing one or two sessions of exercise a week can not compensate for the damage caused by sitting too long. Thus, a systematic review and a current meta-analysis (20 January 2015), “Sedentary time and its association with the risk of incidence, mortality and hospitalization in adults”, alerts us to this serious health problem. We included 47 articles that met the eligibility criteria, performing meta-analyzes on cardiovascular disease and diabetes (14 studies), cancer (14 studies) and all-cause mortality (13 studies).
The findings were devastating : “Prolonged sedentary time was associated with adverse health outcomes regardless of physical activity, with the highest incidence in type II diabetes, followed by cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other types of mortality.”
The HIIT, the golden calf?
The idea that paying a gym fee is the best way to get in shape is being challenged by scientists who have studied the benefits of non-traditional exercise. This type of exercise includes high-intensity intervallic training (HIIT), which can offer, in healthy individuals and sick populations, similar or even higher physiological adaptations on health to traditional training based on long-term resistance, but in times of much shorter exercise.
Physical training is a clinically proven, cost-effective primary intervention that delays and in many cases avoids the health burdens associated with many chronic diseases . However, the exact type and dose of exercise necessary to accumulate health benefits is a controversial issue, with no clear consensus recommendations for the prevention of disorders related to inactivity and chronic diseases.
Although poorly studied, low volume HIIT may also stimulate physiologic remodeling comparable to continuous moderate intensity training, despite a substantially lower time commitment and reduced total exercise volume. These findings are important since “lack of time” remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular participation in the exercise.
However, although according to Gibala (2012) there is limited evidence regarding the possible application of HIIT to people with, or at risk for, cardiometabolic disorders including type 2 diabetes, in recent years there is already a body of evidence in this aspect.
The problem is that the supervision of qualified professionals is needed, and more when high-intensity work regimes are established, in a field where the lack of established “prescriptions” is evident. After reviewing the literature on this for years, I have not found that the best types of HIIT for each pathology and for each type of population have been established.
Exercise-snacking, a new fitness concept
Another non-traditional form of exercise that has emerged recently is the “snacking exercise”. It has been shown that this form of multiple short periods of exercise, of snack size (small), controls blood sugar better than a single continuous training.
In a study that examined the benefits of exercise, researchers compared blood sugar levels in participants who exercised for 30 continuous minutes, and when they divided their exercise into three small parts made shortly before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This “snacking exercise” lowered blood sugar for about 24 hours and was much better than the 30 minute exercise.
Controlling blood sugar is very important for people who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
In this study, nine individuals completed these three exercise interventions in random order :
1. Traditional continuous exercise (CONT) with 30 min of moderate intensity at 60% of maximal heart rate (HRmax). 2. Exercise snack (ES), consisting of intense 6 × 1 min (90% HRmax) by inclined slope walking intervals, 30 min before each meal. 3. Snacking compound exercise (CES), spanning 6 × 1 min intervals alternating between walking and strength exercises, also 30 min before meals.
The time and composition of the meals were controlled in all the exercise interventions to avoid that this variable would affect the results.
The results were that exercise-snacking reduced the mean glucose concentration in 24 hours after dinner, and this reduction persisted for the next 24 h compared to the continuous exercise. In addition, compound snacking exercise (CES) was as effective as simple snacking exercise in improving glycemic control.
In conclusion, the data show that ” small doses of brief and intense exercise (exercise snacks) before each main meal result in better blood glucose control than a single prolonged, continuous, moderate-intensity exercise in individuals with insulin resistance “.
Thermogenesis everyday activity other than exercise (NEAT) is vital in obesity
Thermogenesis of non-exercise activity (NEAT) is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sports. It should be emphasized that activity levels can vary between individuals of the same weight, up to 2000 kcal / day!
Thermogenesis Everyday Exercise Activity (NEAT) is vital to controlling obesity. Evidence suggests that a low NEAT may appear in obesity, but in a very specific way. Obese people seem to show an innate tendency to sit for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean people. If obese people increase their levels of daily activity, they could spend an additional 350 kcal a day.
These studies collectively highlight the importance of making sure we stay active throughout the day, and increase the amount of energy we use in daily life activities, from climbing stairs to playing musical instruments.
Recall that obesity was rare a century ago and the human genotype has not changed at that time. Therefore, the obesity epidemic may reflect the emergence of a “seductive mood of chair use” for those with an innate tendency to sit down and who made them obese. To reverse obesity, we need to develop individual strategies to promote standing and walking time by 2.5 hours a day, and also to reorganize our work, school, and home settings to make active life the only choice possible choice.
Exercise around meals: the ideal time
The exercise around meals also appears to be beneficial for people with diabetes. A new study showed that walking 10 minutes after each meal can significantly improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, compared to a single 30-minute walk each day.
The improvement was particularly surprising after the evening meal, when the largest amount of carbohydrates was consumed and the sedentary behaviors were higher.
Regular physical activity is a cornerstone of diabetes management. Benefits associated with post-meal physical activity suggest that current guidelines should be qualified to specify maintaining post-meal activity, particularly when meals contain a substantial amount of carbohydrate.