What makes the difference?
It is a matter of consciousness for the activities you do. How much physical movement you have in your daily life may be decisive for your health and weight. It is easier to see this and to understand the point, if we make up a case with two different persons.
Let’s look at these two persons, where both are performing the same amount of training, and both have the same eating habits and the same intake of nutrition (amount and calories). One of them is rather slim, while the other is somewhat overweight. This is very often the case in the real life, and many of you have probably noticed this “unfair” situation. How come, when they have the same habits and the same volume of training and nutrition?
There might be several explanations for this, but I want to emphasise the most probable factor that is leading to this seemingly unlogical difference: The NEAT factor.
What is the NEAT factor?
NEAT is just simply an abbreviation: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the term for all low intense activity that is being performed during a day. We are then considering all types of physical activity, except specific training sessions or other high intensive physical activity. This may be walking or bicycling to work, walking in stairs, walking to the toilet, walking around in office spaces, walking to coffee machines, etc. So, this means all types of small and “unnoticeable” physical activities.
The thing is that all such types of daily activities have a significant influence on the daily consumption of energy. In addition to the increased consumption of energy, such activities may also give major benefits on the health in general, due to a lowered risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart and cardio diseases and diabetes 2. One of the foremost researchers on NEAT, Dr. James Levine, has found that some persons with a high level of daily activities may burn up to 2000 calories (2000 Kcal) more than those who are less active.
How can you achieve this?
First of all it is a matter of being more conscious about the daily activities. The more active, the better it is. When talking about this, it is not a matter of training. Add activities for yourself that are easy to perform during a normal day. Walk the stairs instead of using the lift. 10 steps of stairs equals appr. 2 calories. Imagine then how this will summarise during a day, if you skip the lift or elevator.
Major health effects
The everyday activities, or more correct, the lack of them, are closely connected to overweight. In one of the studies performed by Dr. Levine, it was revealed that those with normal weight in average were physically active two hours more per day than those who were overweight. Training was not included in the study.
This is not only a matter of weight. The general health effect by being more active during the day, including the reduced risk of lifestyle diseases, is just as important. Even if you are training quite much already, do not forget the importance of activities outside the training field or the gym.
The daily activities are underestimated by many. The decrease in the amount of such activities is one of the main reasons why many today are struggling with overweight and lifestyle diseases.
Some studies even indicate that people who are training hard and intense, move very little in their daily life. Their total consumption of energy might then be at the same level as those who are not training, but who have a high level of daily activities. The best thing is to find a good balance between training and daily activities.
Many are wondering why the level of daily activities is so important for people’s health. Why not just perform some heavy training and leave it with that, like some is doing? The short answer for this is that daily physical activities leads to continuous, long term energy consumption through metabolism, which is good in itself. Further, it continuously activates the muscles, which initiates and stimulates a number of positive processes for the body.
Tips for a more active daily life
– Walk the stairs
– Walk or stand when you have the possibility (in particular if your work is based on sitting position)
– Place your phone away from you, so you will have to move when it calls or when you receive a message
– Stand up and move 2-3 minutes at least every hour
– Leave the bus or tram one station earlier than needed. This will give you some extra walking
– Take some pause from the TV/PC/Phone, and move every hour
– When being on the phone, move around instead of just sitting
– Walk/bicycle to work/school
The differences in calory consumption
Sitting still burns appr. 2,6 kcal per minute
Bicycling 15 minutes: 100 kcal
Walking 30 min: 164 kcal
Fast stair walking 10 min: 105 kcal
Standing 2 hours: 400 kcal
Step box work out, moderate speed, 10 min: 85 kcal
Grasp every opportunity to be more active. This will make a bigger difference than you think!
Author: Marte Kristiansen