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- raking the leaves
- cleaning the house
Anything that involves movement at a slow pace from many hours a day.
Now here’s the cool thing: research shows that people who increase their NEAT activity lose tons of weight without making any other changes. We’re talking about people losing 50 pounds or more, including obese children!
So, how does this apply to us?
Well, typically we walk around at the beginning and the end of our Tai Chi or Qigong practice. Normally we walk around for 30 seconds or so. But what if we walked longer? What if we walked for 15 minutes instead? What if we added walking to other parts of our day?
For a few years now I’ve been using something called a Fitbit. This is a peanut-size device that I put in my pocket. It’s basically a glorified pedometer. It also comes with a belt clip so you can clip it on your belt. But there are all kinds of activity monitors out there now. The iPhones have a built-in one and the Health app. You can buy risk-based activity monitors, and there’s all sorts of stuff.
What you’ll notice with some sort of activity monitor like this is that steps don’t lie. These trackers, these activity monitors, measure your steps throughout the day, and what you see when you start measuring the data is that the trends are very clear.
There’ll be some days where you get plenty of steps and then there’ll be days where you really don’t get very many at all, and the difference is staggering!
So the difference between 10,000 steps in a day and 3,000 steps in a day is — it’s huge. You can feel the difference. And when you start to look at the data over a period of weeks or days it’s very clear.
So I recommend some sort of activity monitor for those of you who are having trouble getting the necessary steps in.
Another thing that’s becoming a huge trend is standing desks. So what this means is that rather than sitting you’ll be standing at a desk that’s at the appropriate height for you to do your work. They’re very popular; some businesses are even buying them for their employees. You can certainly talk to your employer about them. If you’re self-employed like me, well, you can consider making your own or even investing in one.
There’s a new adjustable pneumatic standing desk that’s sold by IKEA which I believe is about $500. Now, that’s a bit pricey, but it depends on how you look at it. Because if you consider it a health expense, it’s not that big of deal. If it’s gonna save you a lot of health expenses over the long run, which, simply by changing your desk, it’s almost guaranteed to do.
The latest thing that a lot of people are also using is called a treadmill desk. It’s exactly what sounds like: a desk with a treadmill below it that goes at a very slow pace. So, you’re basically walking all day while you’re at your desk.
And people who have these say that it’s revolutionary. I myself have never tried one — they can be a bit pricey. I believe that the typical model that people recommend is about $1,500! So, no question that is a big chunk of change. However, it depends on how you value health and it’s also an investment if you look at it in the right way. So I don’t have one of these. I’d like to get one. But from what I’ve read they make a huge difference in people’s lives.
So, simply by having the ability to walk while you’re working (and keep in mind it doesn’t matter what your work is, as long as you normally use a desk) you should be able to switch to a treadmill desk.
Here’s another tip that I like to use to get more steps in and to get more activity. Have you ever found yourself trying to gather more than one item when trying to bring it to another room?
So for example, if you’re picking things up and bringing them back to the kitchen or if you’re bringing something back to the bedroom, whatever it is, (these might be any variety of little items) so, the tendency is, “oh, let me grab this, and this, oh, let me get a few things while I’m going”. So change your mindset and do the opposite. Allow yourself only one item per trip. This will, of course, force you to take more trips, but almost all of us- myself included, need more trips!
We need every excuse we can get to walk more and to do more throughout our day. We need more NEAT activity throughout our day. So, any excuse we can get to move more, to get up from our desk, to move over there and get something, that is a good thing.
Another trick that I’ve talked about for years is to park (assuming that you live in someplace like Florida where you’re driving all the time) as far away from where you’re going as you possibly can.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, circle around the parking lot looking for the spot that is closest to where you’re going. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get more NEAT activity in your life. And in Florida, there’s the added bonus of being able to find a spot in the shade, which, of course, we all appreciate.
Those of you who do not live in Florida and do not have a car (maybe you live in a metro center like New York or…Europe has a lot of these walking towns) you may not need as much. They say that people in walking cities like New York or Paris walk 2 to 3 times as much as the average American, who drives.
So an easy way to find out is to get one of these activity monitors and look at your steps. Are you getting more than 10,000 steps a day or not?
One more trick I like to use is to combine the two-minute drill with some NEAT activity. So, I’ll be sitting at a desk for a while (very often I work at Starbucks) and I’ll say you know what? I need a break. So I’m gonna walk to a park, which is right nearby, do the two-minute drill, and then walk back.
So I’ve just combined a few things: I’ve combined a break, which is always good, I’ve gotten up, I’ve done some walking, I did a two-minute drill, and it’s amazing! I come back and I’m like totally refreshed and ready to get more work done.