I am currently reading a book called The Genius Life by Max Lugavere. In chapter four he discusses the benefits of movement. NEAT, which stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, helps our body to burn calories. These activities can burn anywhere from 300-1000 calories a day. These are small things that we do throughout the day that we would not traditionally consider exercise.
NEAT Increases During:
- Walking the dog
- Cleaning the house
- Playing an instrument
- Folding laundry
- Carrying groceries
- Doing the dishes
- Playing with your kids
A group from the Mayo Clinic tried to figure out if NEAT alone was sufficient in preventing weight gain. Participants were given an additional 1000 calories per day. Those individuals with higher levels of NEAT were able to preserve their leanness and prevent weight gain.
Low intensity activity, like the ones listed above, also have the ability to influence fat storage via an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, or LPL. LPL determines where the fat ends up. The fat can be used for fuel or stored as fat. Simple activities will increase your LPL, thus making fat storage less likely.
This becomes very important for anyone who works at a desk or behind the computer. Sitting for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your back and your health. I have recommended to patients to get up and move around or stretch every 15-30 minutes. In this book, it was recommended to do a two minute walk every 30 minutes.
Sitting for extended periods of time will cause muscles to tighten, restriction of joints, and decreased blood flow to your brain. This could lead to muscle aches, joint pain, and impaired cognitive function. The two minute walk will stretch the muscles, improve joint mobility, and improve blood flow to the brain.
Although high intensity exercises have shown remarkable increases in overall health, let’s not forget about more simple forms of movement. These little movements can add up to great benefits. In the words of Dory in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.