I know I always say it: “Move more, eat less.” I wrote it plainly and simply in a previous article, How To Lose Fat which, depressingly (though not surprisingly), topped the charts for the most-viewed article I’d written to date.
“Move more, eat less.” Or consider my modified slogan: “Move more, eat well.”
Increase your total movement, not necessarily your exercise. That’s what Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is all about.
After donning an expensive ($238) armband purported to track not only my heart rate, but also my calories burned, my steps, my physical activity, and my sleep patterns, I was shocked to see that my calorie burn sitting on the couch was indistinguishable from my calorie burn while sleeping. I was more shocked to see that I actually burned more calories in an hour of ambling around the gym floor chatting up members than I did during my high intensity 30′ workout–far more.
Seriously!? What’s up with with this epidemic gym culture? We’re told it’s diet and exercise, right?
Sure. Exercise still has its place in terms of balancing hormones and neurotransmitters, posture, stamina, flexibility, and muscle mass–but in terms of weight management, it pales in comparison to NEAT.
NEAT represents the energy expenditure of daily activities such as standing, walking, moving, and shifting while sitting. None of these are considered planned physical exercise. They will make or break your weight loss goals. Research by Levine et al. (2005) recruited 20 healthy volunteers of varying body masses and tracked their movement over 10 days. What they found was not surprising: obese subjects (half of the group) were seated on average 164 minutes longer than the leaner participants. That’s two and a half hours! Additionally, the lean participants were standing and moving for 153 minutes more per day than the obese subjects, and sleep times did not very at all between the groups.
The extra movement from the lean subjects averaged 352 +/- 65 calories per day, which is the equivalent of 36.5 pound of fat in one year. All because they move around more.
The following is a list of suggestions on how to be more active during the day (source: ACE Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant Manual, 2nd Ed.):
- Walk to work.
- Walk during your lunch hour.
- Walk instead of drive whenever you can.
- Take a family walk after dinner.
- Skate to work instead of driving.
- Walking to your place of worship instead of driving.
- Mow the lawn with a push mower.
- Walk your dog.
- Replace the Sunday drive with a Sunday walk.
- Work and walk around the house.
- Take your dog to a park.
- Wash the car by hand.
- Run or walk fast when doing errands.
- Pace the sidelines at your kids’ athletic games.
- Take the wheels off your luggage.
- Walk to a coworker’s desk instead of emailing or calling.
- Make time in your day for physical activity.
- If you find it difficult to be active after work, try to fit exercise in before work.
- Take a walk break instead of a coffee break.
- Perform gardening and/or easy-to-do home-repair activities.
- Bring your groceries (from your car) into your house one bag at a time.
- Play with your kids at least 30 minutes a day.
- Dance to music.
- Walk briskly in the mall.
- Take the long way tot he water cooler or break room.
- Take the stairs instead of the escalator.
- Go for a hike.