The average exerciser works out about 2 hours a week equating to around only 100 cal/day!
Yet, for the average 150 pound woman, walking 3mph a day burns around 263 calories. But wait, that doesn’t mean you have to take a daily one hour walk. The results of many micro-movements throughout the day yield big returns! This kind of movement, coined by Dr. Levine, is called NEAT – Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and it is a vital key to being trim and healthy!
Exercise is defined as ‘bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness’, like taking an exercise class, playing tennis, or lifting weights. Working out for 2 hours a week may make you feel like you are doing things right, but those results may be countered by too much sitting, and therefore yield negligible results metabolically. But those with higher rates of NEAT have less risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic illnesses.
Simply put, sitting reduces the muscle’s ability to break down fat molecules in your blood, drastically decreasing your metabolic rate. Sitting for just 2 or more hours a day decreases your good cholesterol, and increases risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, certain cancers, and Type 2 diabetes. The risk increases significantly for each additional hour spent sitting.
For men, a 2006 study found that for every 6 hours they sit, their risk of all cause death increased by 20% over those who sat for 3 hours or less. And women fair far worse, as those who sit for more than six hours a day die at a forty percent higher rate than those who get more movement.
Our bodies were simply not designed to sit all day. If you watch children, you will see the natural biomechanics of how our bodies were created to rest. This looks like a squat. Butt down, knees splayed as they play in the dirt, their joints are supple and flexible in ways at which we look longingly from ‘this side of life.’ But it’s not just getting older that keeps our joints from bending, squatting, and moving like kids, it’s because we start sitting. A lot. And therefore lose the built-in mechanisms that allow us complete freedom of movement.
But now for the good news! There are many things you can do to get in that NEAT movement:
- Bouncing on the balls of your feet
- Frequent trips to the water machine
- Shopping (It’s good for you. There, I said it!)
- Walking your dog
- Bouncing on a ball (Try it instead of a chair.)
- Washing your car
- Swinging your legs
These are all micro-movements we can fit into our days that can account for as much as 800 extra calories in a day! And, they can allow you to regain that flexibility in your joints. Motion is lotion and movement breeds healthy connective tissue. Not only that, but those who move more have less back, neck, hip, and knee pain than those whose daily NEAT is higher. Are you seeing the beauty here? Movement is free! Medication is not.
The average office worker takes 5,000-6,000 steps a day. Increase this to10,000 and you’re looking at another 211 calories…a day. That adds up, girls! This is where activity trackers shine. Many women tend to be very goal-oriented so having that 10,000 step mindset per day can make a difference in a much more robust caloric deficit!
Tip: Set your phone or tracker to notify you every 20 minutes to move! Get up, stretch, and take a few steps before getting back to work.
A couple recommendations for things you can purchase to easily get more movement in besides an exercise ball to replace with your chair is a bouncy band you can find HERE. And more expensive but WAY cool is a fidget bar that you can put under your desk found HERE.
So, in deconstructing the research and data, what we can take away is that your NEAT activity not only counts for the majority of calories you expend over exercise alone, it also goes far in increasing overall health of the heart, lungs, muscles, and body composition. Bottom line: Exercise to build strength and cardiovascular endurance, but move throughout the day for overall health and longevity.
Spending less time on your butt = a healthier, fitter you. Time to move!
Lisa and Team
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