The Benefits of Doing Multiple Short Workouts Each Day

Here’s what you need to know about sprinkling exercise "snacks" throughout your day.

By Catherine HopkinsonUpdated January 5, 2021


Ever find yourself maxed out on your daily tasks, wondering when you’re ever going to find the time to fit in a “full” workout? Well, good news: You don’t have to!

We’re here to suggest a different kind of workout diet: exercise “snacks.” No, this doesn’t mean placing a bag of chips next to your 10-pound dumbbells. Instead, the idea is to break up that ideal 60-minute workout into smaller chunks so you can fit them into your day more conveniently.

Thinking about going this route? Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Think high intensity.

Studies have found that short bursts of intense exercise (aka HIIT) provide greater benefits than longer, less-intense workout sessions. Translation: You’ll need to sweat at least a little if you want to make the most of your time. “Even though a workout isn’t defined by the amount of sweat you produce,” says Peloton instructor Chase Tucker, “I would say that if no sweat is broken at all then it isn’t truly a workout.” So be ready to put in some effort during each short segment.

Your workouts might be more efficient.

If you tend to lose steam toward the end of a longer workout, you may notice improvement if you break it up and spread exercise throughout your day. “Two shorter workouts have the benefit of allowing me to have more energy throughout the entirety of both workouts,” Chase says, “whereas in a long session, I’m more likely to lose energy and have lower motivation or output toward the end of the workout.”

Here’s how Member Rebecca B. gets it done: “I generally do a bit of yoga and meditation in the morning, then at lunchtime I do a 20- or 30-minute ride or strength, and then whichever I didn’t do at lunch I do in the evening.” All those efforts definitely add up!

Consider your goals.

If you’re looking to crush a 90-minute Power Zone ride or bulk up your biceps, exercise snacks may not be the best strategy for you. “Shorter workouts are conducive for building power, speed or strength and not necessarily conducive for building cardiovascular endurance, sports-specific skills—depending on the sport—or increasing muscle size,” Chase says.

But if you’re looking for general fitness or just want to increase your movement and energy throughout the day, this approach could be right for you. Member Stephanie S. says the all-day-buffet style suits her lifestyle perfectly: “That is just what I have to naturally do because of work/school/motherhood,” she says. “I usually do a 10- to 20-minute workout in the mornings, then in the afternoon or evening I do a 20- to 30-minute yoga practice. The app has been super helpful, because I can save all of my routines and practices for the week and pull them up whenever I have a chance.”

You can actually multitask.

Member Stephanie S. has an amazing hack that works for her and may just work for you, too: “I’ve incorporated 10-minute standing yoga or standing core Peloton workouts from Rebecca Kennedy during my many conference calls,” she says. “I am able to follow along with the sound off (or low) while still being able to listen to my conference calls. In the year of Covid, we have all had to think outside the box, working out included!”

The benefits might be more than physical.

“On top of a 20-minute ride with an instructor in my daily schedule … I like to add in scenic-route rides to break up the workday. Not only does it get me up and moving in between conference calls, but I love exploring other parts of the country and world,” says Member Liz T. “My favorites are the West Coast rides. They give me a mental break from work and our home environment, and stimulate my creativity and thinking.”

Remember, you can do anything for 10 minutes. Try out a short but intense HIIT class to get started!

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