I’ll be the first to admit that committing an hour of each day to exercise is no walk in the park. But what if several short workouts were better than one long exercise session? According to researchers, “snack-sized” exercise may have a greater impact on blood sugar control than one long continuous workout.

Scientist found that when study participants were asked to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes pre-meal, their post-dinner blood sugars were lower than the baseline test results. “Dosing exercise as brief, intense ‘exercise snacks’ before main meals is a time efficient and effective approach to improve glycemic control in individuals with insulin resistance,” the researchers explain.

The message from the study is, short bouts of exercise before meals several times during the day may be an effective way to control post-meal blood sugar results.

6 ways to squeeze snack-sized exercise into your day

1. Take Fido for a stroll. Walk your dog around the block for 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll benefit, and so will your dog. Plus, the companionship may give you that extra burst of encouragement to push yourself a little harder. If you don't have a dog, call up a buddy and take a walk to catch up with each other.

2. Take the stairs. At work or while out running errands, skip the escalator and elevator and take the stairs. If you work on the third floor and there’s a bathroom on the first floor, try taking the stairs and getting in some extra movement throughout the day.

3. Put down the remote. There’s nothing wrong with catching up on a bit of reality TV after work. But instead of fast forwarding through the commercials, spend them doing sit-ups, lifting weights, or doing push-ups. Get the family involved too, and add some friendly competition into the mix.

4. Hit the bike, treadmill, or stair machine. If you only have to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, you’re more likely to push yourself. Don’t make a special trip to the gym if you don’t have to. Stop in on a quick session on your way to or from home. For example, if you’re out running errands near your gym, stop in for quick 20-minute walk on the treadmill before heading home. If you're just going at a slow pace, you don't even need to change your clothes!

5. Walk to work. Even if you live too far away to walk to work. Try parking farther away from your workplace or taking public transportation and walking the rest of the way. If you’re in a parking structure, park at the top and take the stairs.

6. Take your lunch outdoors. Take a walk around the block during lunch. The fresh air and movement will help you stay energized through the rest of your day.

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Every little bit you can squeeze in throughout the day adds up. The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more likely you’ll be able to keep doing it every day. Find what works for you, whether it’s a short stroll before dinner or a nice jog before lunch.

To learn more about exercise and diabetes:

Exercise Habits to Ditch
Exercises to Avoid With Diabetes
Find the Right Exercise for You