NEAT: It won’t tidy your house, but it could keep you Fit

If you’ve paid attention to some of the so-called experts – personal trainers, physicians specializing in weight loss, etc. – who’ve been traveling the world and/or appearing on talk shows to speak about getting fit and healthy, you may have noticed a trend towards motivating people to move around more. I’m not talking about going to the gym, or running a few miles each morning before work – just simply keeping your body in motion more often.

Body in MotionIt’s a phenomenon known as NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and is something the majority of people did by default a few decades ago. But in today’s world of advanced technology and a workforce dominated by sedentary office jobs, being NEAT doesn’t exactly come natural anymore.

NEAT refers specifically to the amount of energy we expend moving our bodies around when we’re not eating, exercising or sleeping. The less we move, the less our metabolism thrives, and with a low metabolic rate, our bodies simply aren’t burning the calories we consume on a daily basis.

For years now, scientists and doctors have blamed the increase in overweight and obese communities on the prevalence of fast foods and generally unhealthy diets. You’ll still hear these arguments from plenty of experts, but it seems to me – and a throng other specialists more worthy of your attention – that people all across North America have been eating french fries, burgers, pizza and other quick and tasty meals for much longer than when the issue of obesity began to spike.

Moms at Work in the Old DaysIf you’re a product of the 1970’s, chances are you remember sitting around the television every night, enjoying black-and-white or technicolor sitcoms with the family while eating TV dinners. While those evening hours were spent predominantly in a sedentary state, during the day, the kids were actively running around, moms were busy around the house and dad’s were out working on their feet all day.

Things didn’t change much in the 1980’s, although women became more active in the workforce. The vast majority of society was still considered fit and active, despite fast food shops opening on every other corner and microwave meals taking precedence over the stove-top variety.

Then the 1990’s came along, bringing with it the world of computerized technology and, most importantly, the internet. That’s when things first started going downhill. Today’s generation is dominated by technology and internet. Labor jobs have been taken over by computers and robots, while the majority of workers sit behind a desk all day. After work, we play on our phones and watch TV, while children munch of snacks and play video games. Heck, we don’t even go shopping anymore, ordering bulk items off the internet and having them delivered straight to our front doors.

Aside from the actively-aware fitness buffs who hit the gym, run marathons and make a daily effort to burn calories, the vast majority of North Americans simply aren’t NEAT. Not enough people are moving around throughout the day to burn the same average amount of calories we, as a society, have been consuming for decades.

It’s time to put down the phones, close the laptops, turn off the video games and do something else for an hour or so each day that keeps out bodies in motion. It could be anything from a walk around the neighborhood, to gardening, to tidying up the house, making beds and putting away laundry. The simple act of staying in motion for a few hours a day can do wonders for your health and wellbeing.


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