The Surprising New Way to Stay Fit -- Without Exercise

Tools

Story Updated: Nov 13, 2013

If getting fit is one of your new year's resolutions, there's good news: It's easier than you think to do it.

A stack of new research shows that you don't need to spend hours at the gym at an "I'm-killing-myself" pace to stay in tip-top shape. Mini bursts of moderate activity may actually be a more effective way to lose weight or stay in tip-top shape.

That's NEAT! We don't mean "neat" as in cool, but NEAT as in "non-exercise activity thermogenesis." NEAT is scientific shorthand for everyday movements, like standing, bending, walking, toe-tapping, washing dishes, folding laundry. Basically, it's any physical movement, or calorie burning, other than exercise.

How NEAT Works

Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic researcher is one of the world's leading proponents of NEAT and the author of the book Move a Little, Lose a Lot: New Neat Science Reveals How to Be Thinner, Happier and Smarter. Levine says that the average person can burn an extra 350 calories a day -- enough to drop 3 pounds a month -- just by adding little spurts of activity into their daily life. Everything counts, like taking a 30-minute walk at lunch, pacing while you're on the phone, marching in place for a few minutes while watching TV, standing as you text, running around the yard with your dog. Doing anything, in other words, but sitting.

"If a person just gets off her bottom and stands up," says Levine, "so much muscle activity is involved that your metabolism spikes immediately." Avoiding long stretches of inactivity has many other health benefits, too, from improving your mood to improving your cholesterol.

Why 'Easy' Exercise Is Actually Your Best Bet
Consider this: Intense exercise can actual backfire when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and healthy habits. In a recent study, a team of Danish researchers found that participants who worked out at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day actually lost more pounds that those who exercised vigorously for 60 minutes a day. In 13 weeks, the heavy-duty exercisers dropped 5 pounds; the take-it-easy exercisers lost 7 pounds with half the exertion.

Mark Blegen, Ph.D., an exercise researcher in St. Paul, Minn., says that's likely because the intense exercisers felt they had a free pass to eat whatever they wanted and turn into couch potatoes for the rest of the day. The people who worked out for half a time, on the other hand, kept moving and watched their diet. "When you've worked out for only 30 minutes, you tell yourself, consciously or not, I'm going to make an effort to do more throughout the day," says Blegen.

Get Started With NEAT Today
If you're serious about boosting your NEAT, an activity monitor can help you track your movements and inspire you to take an extra walk around the block or choose the stairs over the elevator. Look for one that measures not just steps, but overall physical activity. And, remember, less really may be more when it comes to the most effective way to stay in shape!

Copyright (c) 2013 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

Add a comment

Name:

Comment: 250 Characters Left

WBNG and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the above comments or other interaction among the users. We reserve the right to screen, refuse to post, remove or edit user-generated content at any time and for any or no reason in our absolute and sole discretion without prior notice, although we have no duty to do so or to monitor any Public Forum.

Featured Professional
Featured Professionals

Cardiovascular Services

Guthrie Cardiovascular Center

Interviews with Dr. Larson
Interviews with Dr. Ashok Shah
Interviews with Dr. Marica
Interviews with Dr. Sampson

Guthrie Cardiovascular Center

Consistently ranked among the top 100 cardiovascular hospitals by Thomson Reuters, Guthrie cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and vascular surgeons work together to ensure patients receive the most comprehensive care possible.

Offering cardiovascular care to the Twin Tiers for more than 40 years, Guthrie’s cardiac specialists and staff have offered the people of our region the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services possible, while earning national awards for quality and recognition for excellence.

Diagnostic & Non-Invasive Cardiology
Non-invasive cardiology includes all procedures that allow the cardiologist to obtain information about the heart without going through the skin or invading the body in any way. Many times these procedures are the first steps in evaluating a patient's condition. Guthrie provides diagnostic and non-invasive cardiology services, including multi-slice CT angiography, comprehensive mobile echocardiography services including stress echo, EKG, holter monitoring and nuclear stress testing to name a few.

Invasive & Interventional Cardiology
When non-invasive techniques don't provide all the answers, additional diagnostic procedures may be used to more clearly identify and treat cardiac problems. Within Guthrie’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, invasive and interventional cardiologists offer subspecialty diagnostic and therapeutic services to evaluate and treat cardiac conditions without traditional surgery. Guthrie interventional cardiologists perform over 100 peripheral vascular interventions, such as carotid angioplasty and stenting, each year, with a 95% technical success rate.

Electrophysiology & Pacing
The heart's conduction system, the system that controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat, can develop problems that interfere with the heart's ability to function properly. Electrophysiology Laboratory team offers complete electrophysiology and pacing services for treatment of arrhythmias – from palpitations and syncope to atrial fibrillation to more specialized rhythm abnormalities.

Cardiac Surgery
Surgery plays an important role in a comprehensive cardiac program. Whatever the patient's needs, they can be met by the Guthrie’s cardiac surgery team. Guthrie’s Cardiac Surgery team provides a comprehensive scope of surgical procedures for the treatment of diseases of the heart and chest. Commonly treated conditions include ischemic heart disease, ventricular aneurysms, valve dysfunction, rheumatic heart disease, cardiac arrhythmia, trauma, cardiac tumors and infection.

Thoracic Surgery
Providing the advanced surgical techniques and oncologic therapies, thoracic surgery at Guthrie is dedicated to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of non-cardiac diseases of the chest. We are able to apply the modern techniques of minimally invasive procedures including video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) to many disease processes for the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer and other chest diseases.

Vascular & Endovascular Surgery
Guthrie’s Department of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery offers a full spectrum of services – from life-saving procedures to repair ruptured aneurysms to elective procedures to prevent stroke, provide relief from claudication and address symptoms of venous disease. The latest therapies and minimally invasive endovascular treatment are offered by our experienced vascular team.

Interviews with Dr. Larson