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Want to hear something NEAT? How to overcome the negative side effects of sedentary behavior

Want to hear something NEAT? How to overcome the negative side-effects of sedentary behavior

Although more attention has recently been placed on limiting sedentary behavior, many still believe that 30-90 minutes of exercise per day can negate the adverse effects of sitting. However, according to the ASCM, “sedentariness is detrimental even among individuals who meet the current physical activity recommendations” (150 minutes/week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise OR 75 minutes/week of vigorous intensity exercise OR a combination of both + resistance training 2-3 times/week). Some of these negative effects include “elevated risks of CHD mortality and depression, increased waist circumference, elevated blood pressure, decrease lipoprotein lipase activity, and worsened chronic disease biomarkers …” (ACSM Position Stand, 2011). 

When these sedentary bouts are broken up by shorts bursts of physical activity, however, these negative effects can be attenuated. 

What are some ways you can do this? By increasing your NEAT! Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a term used to describe the energy burned throughout the day from any physical activity other than planned exercise. This can range from typing on a computer and fidgeting to standing up and walking. Essentially, the more you move throughout the day, the more calories you will burn (likewise, the more sedentary you are, the less NEAT you will have). Research suggests that just by increasing your NEAT, not only will you diminish some of the adverse effects of sedentary behavior, but you can also burn up to 300-600 more calories per day!!

Check out some of these tips on how to increase your NEAT below:

1. Walk: anytime, anywhere. Slow or fast. Walk instead of drive or park farther away than you need when you drive somewhere so you can walk more. If you take public transportation, get off the bus or subway a stop or two early so you can do some walking. Give yourself extra time for grocery shopping so you can walk around the store more. Go to the mall with friends not to shop, but to walk.

2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go up and down the stairs of your (school, work, or apartment) building a few times a day more than you need to. Take extra trips up and down the stairs at home.

3. Bounce your leg up and down while you’re sitting.

4. Tap your foot or wiggle your toes while you are sitting.

5. Fidget more.

6. Use a standing desk  (or other work surface that allows you to stand).

7. Use a treadmill desk .

8. Get up every 30-60 minutes or so to get some water/go to the bathroom/take a break from sitting.

9. Do some stretches daily or several times a day.

10. Dance around your house or go dancing with friends.

11. Cook a meal instead of grabbing takeout or going to a restaurant.

12. Do the dishes by hand.

13. Clean the house.

14. Fold the laundry and put all of the clothes away.

15. Iron your clothes.

16. Play a musical instrument/do some knitting/engage in another hobby that keeps you moving.

17. Do some gardening/yardwork.

18. Shovel snow in the winter.

19. Play with your kids/pets.

20. Get a BodyMedia Armband  or a Fitbit  or a pedometer so you can track your activity during the day. Many people report that having one of these devices is motivation to be more active each and every day.

When in doubt, keep moving!

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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