Who doesn’t love a snack? A tasty little treat to keep you going through the day has been a favorite for most since they were kids.
But did you know you can benefit from an “activity snack?” If you’re pressed for time or don’t have the patience or motivation to be active for an entire hour, this could be the perfect solution for you.
New research is showing that activity snacks – short bouts of exercise – after a meal can help people retain and build muscle mass as they age. The study showed this form of exercise might work by increasing the number of amino acids your body uses from food.
When you eat protein, it is broken down into amino acids in the body. Amino acids build and repair muscle mass, a process called protein synthesis. Movement seems to improve this process, putting their food intake to better use.
There has been work in the past to highlight the benefits of short bouts of exercise, but this is the first to show its impact on muscle mass.
The small study measured how well 12 people used amino acids from meals to build muscle. Over three trials, participants had their sitting interrupted every 30 minutes by short bouts of walking or bodyweight squats.
When the participants engaged in these activities, there were improvements in how well amino acids repaired or replaced old or damaged muscle.
Although researchers conducted the study using young adults in their 20s, they believe that the results would hold up for older people who lose muscle faster.
Older people experiencing muscle loss, called sarcopenia, are at greater risk for injury, weakness, lost independence, and frailty.
Finding ways to prevent being sedentary after eating may be the best approach to improving muscle quality and metabolic health.
Have an activity snack for dessert after eating. A walk around the block, your house, or some bodyweight squats may turn the protein in your meal into muscle to help build and maintain strength with age.
Hit a few activity snacks per day. Ideally, they should be in addition to the 150-minutes of exercise that’s already recommended.