Listen, I’m a fitness professional and have worked in recreation centers, gyms and fitness studios since 2007. I’m all about a sweat sesh in the gym! However, this blog post is for individuals who might find the gym intimidating, expensive, and/or inconvenient. It’s also for those of you who have a hard time finding time to move. (The biggest barrier to working out is time, so this could very well apply to you). Lastly, it’s for those of you who might be working out for one hour each day and then sitting for the rest of the day.
Many Americans lead sedentary lifestyles for different reasons. Number one, there are plenty of individuals who probably are unaware of the importance of exercise. Secondly, those who are educated on the importance of movement, might not have the means or the time to move. Third, those who are educated and have the means and the time, might have trouble getting motivated (click for motivation tips) or might not know where to start. In addition to some other variables, a combination of these deterrents to movement also come into play. I believe that understanding your own barrier can help you come up with a solution towards a healthier lifestyle. So, what’s your barrier and how can you come up with a unique solution for yourself?
While I don’t know your specific answer, I know that short workouts and more movement throughout your day can be a life-changing solution to the biggest barrier of: “I JUST DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME”. In fact, short, high intensity workouts are just as effective as longer, low intensity workouts for improving health. These types of workouts, called NEAT or “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” have a huge effect in combatting obesity and weight-related health conditions.
You can think of NEAT as all the movement throughout your day that is unplanned exercise. This includes things like doing laundry, standing up, walking your dog and even fidgeting. A study has shown that a difference in caloric expenditure from one individual to the next can be as high as 2,000 calories in one day through NEAT or random movement. Think about how much that could change your health score! This is not only important for people who are overweight, but also for people who sit a lot. The sad truth is, sitting has negative effects on your health, even if you are working out for an hour each day. We gotta stay in motion, friends.
Here are 7 tools to increase your NEAT and change your life:
- Park further away from your destination
- Set your timer for every hour that you are at work to remind yourself to stand up and take a stretch break
- Schedule walking meetings with co-workers and friends
- Stretch while you are watching TV
- Walk or bike to work
- Take the stairs every chance you get
- Take a few trips to bring in your groceries
Some of these may sound silly, but it all adds up. Not only does it add up for movement goals, but it also makes a difference for your mental health. With these strategies, you will have to slow down. You can’t be in a rush when you are unloading your groceries one bag at a time or when you are taking the 10 flights of stairs instead of the elevator. It can be time for you to slow down and take a deep breath.
Short workouts don’t necessarily fall under the category of NEAT, but they add up just like random movements do. When you complete your movements, you will feel a sense of accomplishment. This positive association with movement will lead to more of these behaviors. You might find yourself completing a few each day because of how much better you feel after you move.
As you can see, movement is so beneficial for a host of reasons. Above all, you will just feel better. Who doesn’t want to feel better? Here is a quick 5-minute movement session for you to try out. You can always modify by omitting all of the high impact or jumping movements. If you can any questions, feel free to comment below.