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52 Weeks to Eating Better Than Ever – NEAT

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* This is part of a year-long series called “52 Weeks to Eating better than Ever”. Click on the side bar for more information and to read the previous essays.
 

Even though we’re focusing on nutrition in this series, I want to come back to physical activity, and controlling your blood sugar.  Sitting too much really is devastating to health.  We need to find ways to increase what is called NEAT:
 
NEAT- Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
 
NEAT, as defined by the National Institutes of Health:
 
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT. It is, therefore, not surprising that NEAT explains a vast majority of an individual’s non-resting energy needs. Epidemiological studies highlight the importance of culture in promoting and quashing NEAT. Agricultural and manual workers have high NEAT, whereas wealth and industrialization appear to decrease NEAT. 
 
NEAT needs to go up, big time!
 
Both to:
 

  1. Increase the amount of calories we are burning throughout the day and..
  2. Decrease the likelihood of developing joint dysfunctions

 
Stretching and doing body maintenance with things like foam rollers and balls, and stretch straps plays into this as well.
 
Movement needs to become a paramount part of our whole discussion on health:
 

  • The amount of movement we are doing
  • The quality of our movement

 
Just going straight to exercise is going to cause problems for many people, particularly if they are coming into a program with years of inactivity.  The body is like a car engine to a significant degree.  It needs to be maintained and worked on and prepared for performance.  And, moving more will keep your blood sugar and insulin levels under control so the health benefits are numerous when it comes to getting the most out of eating well. 
 
Aristotle founded the famous Peripatetic School in Greece on the principle of maintaining a sound mind in a sound body, and preferred to teach while walking, as the famous painting illustrates.  I would never question Aristotle’ wisdom, considering he is THE philosopher. 
 
In “Deskbound: Standing up to a Seated World” DPT Kelley Starrett recommends:
 

  • Reducing all optional sitting in your life.
  • For every 30 minutes that you are deskbound, move for at least 2 minutes.
  • Prioritize position and mechanics whenever you can.
  • Perform 10 to 15 minutes of daily maintenance on your body.

 
“But because sitting on the floor is better than sitting on a couch, consider watching TV on the ground or using your couch as a platform and not a chair. When you sit on the floor, you can spend time stretching, squatting, or working on your mobility. It’s how we watch TV in our household, and we highly recommend it. It’s an easy way to kill two birds with one stone.”
 
Another great way is to track your steps per day, using a pedometer, or fitness tracker or smartphone.  Recommendations vary, but don’t be too rigid about it.  Outside of your exercise, shoot for 5000-10000 per day.  Plus, when you’re moving or standing, you aren’t eating, and that is half the battle when it comes to controlling what and how much you eat.
Think about your NEAT.  How can you increase it?

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Read Next: Harmony & Freedom vs. Narcissistic Autonomy

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