There are many ways to lose and maintain weight: newfangled diets, special pills, and day after day of super-intense workouts without rest are a few options. But, when you try those and fail to lose the weight you want because these aren’t healthy long-term solutions, you’ll learn that it takes a commitment to changing your lifestyle in order to realize weight-loss success that’s sustainable.
To lose weight and make it stick, pair a sensible, nutrient-packed eating plan that doesn’t feel overly restrictive with an exercise routine that includes cardio and strength training with the right mix of intensity and recovery. But, you should also try to work in more overall activity — in addition to your exercise plan — into each day.
Identify opportunities in your day that allow for more physical activity. Seemingly insignificant movement adds up over the course of days and weeks to help you lose weight, so don’t dismiss anything. Whether it’s walking up an extra flight of stairs or vacuuming your living room more often, these things burn calories whether you call them exercise or not.
Intermittent movement throughout the day is often referred to as NEAT: Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis. This can include washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, and taking out the garbage. It is the activity you complete throughout the day that isn’t categorized as “exercise.” This type of calorie-burning activity isn’t often included in weight-loss tips, but it can be one of the most impactful strategies to burn extra calories.
To be sure, NEAT has been called an “essential tool” for controlling body weight. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that the differences in energy expenditure between two people of about the same height and weight can vary as much as 2,000 calories per day based on NEAT.
Why Fitness Should Be an All-Day, Every Day Thing
The dangers of sitting too much are well documented. According to one report, average people spend more than 50 percent of their waking hours sitting. We sit to work at our computers, watch television, eat, and the list goes on. The same review, which looked at 47 different studies on sedentary behavior, found that even for people who exercised up to an hour a day, sitting for prolonged periods of time was linked to an increased risk of deleterious health outcomes ranging from cardiovascular disease to mortality regardless of physical activity.
Other research backs this up, showing that a large amount of sedentary time was associated with risk of chronic diseases, and it can impact healthy heart function.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Paired with a healthy diet, this amount of exercise, combined with regular movement throughout the day, can help boost overall health and wellness while combating obesity.
So how do you incorporate more NEAT into your days to help you shed pounds? It’s easy! Here are a few NEAT weight-loss tips to get you moving:
- Park in the farthest spot in the parking lot at work
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Schedule walking meetings
- Walk to the mail box instead of driving
- Use a bathroom on a different floor at work (and take the stairs to that floor)
- Make a couple of extra trips to the water cooler
- Get up from your desk and stretch at least once an hour
- Wash the dishes by hand
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk rather than emailing
While this type of movement may seem trivial, it compounds quickly. It only requires that you tune into your day and be more mindful of how often you are sitting. When you shift out of autopilot, you’ll notice that not only does intermittent movement help you burn more calories, but it also wakes you up mentally, making you sharper and better able to concentrate throughout the day.