Last week we talked about the difference between formal exercise and informal activity. Whether we engage in formal exercise regularly or not, most of us would benefit from more movement in our days.
This informal movement and the resulting NEAT – nonexercise activity thermogenesis – has tremendous health benefits, as mentioned last week. For example (see links for references), more informal activity/NEAT can result in:
- Improved brain health and maintenance of cognitive function (i.e. staying “sharp” even as you age) 
- Easier maintenance of healthy bodyweight and resistance to fat gain. 
- Improved posture and spinal health. 
- Better insulin sensitivity. 
- More positive sense of wellbeing and better mental health. 
The rise of the FitBit and other “activity trackers” has made it easier than ever to measure how much activity you are getting. You can track the number of steps you’ve taken in a day and convert it to the equivalent distance in miles, which makes for a very tangible picture of your activity for the day.
Did you walk 2 miles today? Maybe walking to/from your car, a few trips through the office halls, and a little tidying up at home.
Or did you walk 8 miles today? Perhaps all of the above, plus walking the dog, walking to a restaurant a few blocks away for lunch, and walking to/from the gym after work.
The concept of “moving more” throughout the day is abstract and nonspecific. A certain number of steps per day is a tangible goal, but it’s a fairly obscure measurement. (How often do you tell someone the distance from one place to another in steps?) Miles are concrete and familiar, which means easier to understand and internalize, and therefore more likely to be executed.
But while there may be some clear ways to measure activity, there isn’t always a clear way to fit more activity into your day. Most of us are busy folks, and trying to squeeze opportunities for NEAT into an already-packed schedule can seem impossible. In last week’s post, I shared a few ideas for ways to be more active, but I figured this topic deserved it’s own post.
List-format and pinterest-friendly!
(“…These are a few of my faaavorite things…”)
I’d love to hear your suggestions for how to squeeze in extra activity in the comments below!