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‘Activity snacks’ after meals may be good for your muscles

Photo: Lacheev/iStockphoto

Brief bursts of exercise – or “activity snacks” – after meals can support muscle mass and maximize nutrition.

That’s according to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto.

The researchers studied 12 people for three trials of 7½ hours each. Participants engaged in periods of prolonged sitting, which were broken up every 30 minutes by two minutes of walking or body-weight squatting.

Findings show that this activity improved the function of dietary amino acids – considered the building blocks of protein – to assist in repairing or replacing old or damaged proteins. 

Study co-author Daniel Moore, an associate professor of muscle physiology at the university, said this process is “critical” to maintaining proper muscle quality and quantity.

“Prolonged periods of low muscle activity – from sitting, wearing a cast or bed rest – is associated with a loss of muscle mass that occurs in parallel with, or because of, an inability of our muscle to build new proteins after we eat a protein-containing meal,” Moore said.


“Our results highlight the importance of breaking up prolonged sedentary periods with brief activity snacks. We believe they also highlight that moving after we eat can make our nutrition better and could allow more dietary amino acids from smaller meals or lower quality types of protein to be used more efficiently.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

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