A NEAT secret to easy exercise

In the final part of our ‘mini-series’ about the pillars of successful weight management, Exercise Physiologist, Tobias Atkins has written about his easy approach to getting more physically activity! Tobias believes in combining education with movement and has supported countless clients to reach their weight management goals and health potential. Enjoy!
TobiasHi everyone, I want to let you all in on a little secret! I am actually a little bit of a lazy person.  I like to cheat sometimes, especially with exercise!  I want to reach my goals with the least amount of effort. This might be a surprise coming from someone who has dedicated their life to health and exercise. But the one thing you will learn about me is I am not your usual health/ exercise professional. Truth is I actually hate the word exercise; it’s scary, often comes with negative thoughts and emotions and above all gives so much emphasis on the actual exercise that is takes away from the MOVEMENT of the body.The American College of Sports Medicine say that 150-250 minutes/week of moderate-intensity physical activity provides only modest weight loss. Greater amounts (i.e. >250) provide clinically significant weight loss. But the truth is we just need to move more. This brings in a whole other topic I would like to share with you today. It’s called NEAT.NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is the Kilojoules you burn when not exercising. More than just basal metabolic rate (lie down do nothing and measure how much KJ you burn).  NEAT includes everything from fiddling to involuntary movement when you sleep. And the amount of NEAT movement you do can have a big impact on your weight! Most of the variance in NEAT between people is associated with differences in occupation.  For example if an office worker were to change occupation and worked in agriculture or construction, researchers in one study estimated that NEAT could be increased by 1200kcal per day (Levine J, 2001). That is equal to an extra two-course meal in your day!  So what if you are not planning to switch careers just yet? Is there anything else you can do?  Yes – simply standing more during your day you can burn more calories. Some research on a small group of lean and overweight people found that the lean group stood for an extra 164 minutes a day (Levine J, 2005). All this extra time simply standing could burn 350 kcals per day. This about the same amount of calories you would burn if you met the American College of Sports Medicine recommended weekly minutes of moderate activity! So here are my tips for avoiding exercise classes: 1. Be more active in your down-time:  
  • Try to include some ‘active travel’ in your daily drive by parking a bit further away from the office and walk the rest of the way
  • Look for the car park farthest away from the shops
  • Get out in the garden after work or finish that DIY that you have been putting off.
  • Use the stairs
  • Go out of your way to give yourself more opportunities to be active
2. Stand more: 
  • Watching TV uses very little energy so try to incorporate some housework while you watch (something that involves standing)
  • Stand and walk around while you talk on the phone
  • Have a stand-up or walking meeting
If you want to get a measure of your NEAT, you can try on of the following:
  • Take note of the time you are awake in a chosen day and compare the amount of time you spend sitting down. This includes sitting at lunch to eat your food or in your car on the way to work. Simply use your phones stopwatch and pause the counter when you are standing or moving around resuming the timer when you sit. Then look to reduce this time slightly the following week and do the same thing the week after.
  • Another way we can look at our movement is by looking at our steps accomplished a day. Obviously this isn’t going to account for every movement we do but it is a very good indicator. The general aim is for 10,000 steps a day however this doesn’t account for different fitness levels or personal positions but it is a good place to start.
  • Most smart phones these days have their own versions of step counters or activity counters in built in them just waiting for you to source them out! Get out there and find any way to measure your movement!!
The take home message is to MOVE MORE! Enjoy the cheating!Thank you Tobias. I am standing while I type!For those of you who have been enjoying Glen’s Thursday Therapy, watch up for the next email which has more information about the Total Mind Transformation programme starting in January and a discount for My Nutrition Clinic Clients. We will also be sending out some recipe ideas and good places to search for healthy recipes. Just what you need for planning the Xmas meals!Warm regardsCherie and Anna

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