Micro Workouts for Weight Loss: Is it Your Solution?

My Diet Matters
micro workouts for weight loss

It’s no secret that many people are overweight and unfit. In fact, current statistics suggest 69% of Americans are overweight or obese and 36% of those Americans actually fall into the obese category. Obesity has both personal health implications as well as a staggering impact on health care costs. While no one ever said weight loss is easy, it is always possible. So, while it seems everyone is looking for the easy diet fix, it’s possible that piecing strategies together may be the key. In addition to paying attention to what you eat and how you think, micro workouts for weight loss might be a new simple weight loss solution worth considering.

Self observations on micro workouts for weight loss

I have been tracking my energy expenditure pretty consistently for the last 20 years using various devices. I had personally noticed that these mini workouts were effective. And this was even before they were coined micro workouts or exercise “snacks.”

If I do an intense cardio workout and then sit the rest of the day, I may actually burn less calories than when I skipped both the cardio workout and all day sitting! Standing upright with constant small movements often equaled the cardio workout and sitting all day! A really great day with a big calorie burn included doing both a structured cardio workout along with no sitting the rest of the day. But, I do not live in a cave so to speak, so that so-called great day is not usually a daily occurrence.

What are micro workouts for weight loss?

micro workouts for weight loss

When thinking of how to picture a micro workout, think of activities that are short and sweet. The activities should last a few minutes but raise your heart rate. Doing these activities throughout the day is key to reaping the health and weight management benefits. Basically, these activities are just movement that breaks from sitting for extended periods of time! Some examples of micro workouts or exercise “snacks” can include normal daily movements:

  • Jog or walk in place
  • Walk a distance in store parking lot, instead of parking close to store
  • Go up and down several flights of stairs (and do it again)
  • Sweeping
  • Raking leaves or shoveling snow
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning
  • Jumping jacks
  • If access to a stationary bike or treadmill, use for up to 10 minutes

Keep in mind that all of these activities can be performed for minimal time periods while pushing your heart rate to age appropriate levels. Shorter workouts are ideal for those that need to improve their cardio health to be able to workout longer. For instance, someone who has been sedentary can benefit from adding mini workouts throughout the day with the goal of sustaining the activity longer as fitness levels improve. For others, this concept also works when joints hurt, energy levels are low, and time is tight. The mini workouts really can benefit the old and young, time pressed, and energy depleted. And due to the limited time commitment, micro workouts can be sustained enough to become routine in nature.

You say you have no flexibility as you are chained to your desk? Well, you need to be motivated and extra creative then! Here are some great worksite exercise ideas that anyone can do.

Science backing the benefits of movement

micro workouts for weight and health benefits

If you need more incentive to get moving, consider the following additional benefits of being more active:

  • better blood sugar control
  • improved cholesterol control
  • potential reduction in the incidence of hormone related cancers (breast and prostate)
  • improved blood pressure control in conjunction with diet
  • decreased inflammation
  • improved mood and anxiety reduction
  • a stronger immune system
  • better bone density
  • more efficient blood circulation
  • improved lung function

Take away

Most of the country is struggling with weight, even before COVID-19. I’ve heard a lot of excuses over the decades on why clients cannot exercise. We can hurt, are time pressed, or dislike it. Most people know they should be more physically active, but think they need to block off lots of time and have the energy to do it. Keeping in mind that micro workouts can help achieve weight loss can be incentive to get off the couch. In addition to weight control, moving your body more will help manage various diseases. You can expect improved blood sugar, better immunity, decreased risk of some cancers, and maybe a better mood. You can go at your own pace once you start the workouts. I always thought that on a non-treadmill day, it was very nice to get my garden spiffy and count it as a workout as well.

It’s a win-win all the way! Check out more easy weight loss ideas to begin your wellness journey.

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Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN

Sue Rose helps readers sort through the maze of nutrition information available to the public. As a seasoned clinical dietitian/nutritionist with decades of experience, her blogs attempt to educate and inform the public at a time when there is so much information it is often overwhelming to understand. Stay tuned for clarity on a variety of topics!


Use this information at your own risk. Although I am a licensed IL dietitian/nutritionist, I am not your dietitian. The information in my blog Chew on This located at www.mydietmatters.com is for educational and informational purposes only. It is also my own opinion and subject to change in the future. Please consult with your own medical professionals for individual treatment.