When I reviewed the (in)famous TIME Magazine article about exercise not necessarily leading to weightloss, I noted that the most interesting part of the article was this idea:
...whether it is exercise — sweaty, exhausting, hunger-producing bursts of activity done exclusively to benefit our health — that leads to all these benefits or something far simpler: regularly moving during our waking hours...do we need to stress our bodies at the gym?
...very frequent, low-level physical activity — the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented — may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat.
Amble with me over the jump for a no-sweat discussion of the benefits of activity.
WHEE (Weight, Health, Eating and Exercise) is a community support diary for Kossacks who are currently or planning to start losing, gaining or maintaining their weight through diet and exercise or fitness. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are working on your weight or fitness, please -- join us! You can also click the WHEE tag to view all diary posts.
The idea that low-level activity can be "just as good" as sweaty exercise is not a new idea. This is the heart of the "10,000 Steps" exercise programs that have become popular in the last few years.
Last year, the company I work for sponsored a corporate-wide exercise competition based on the "10,000 Steps" concept. Several of my co-workers formed a walking team to go for the site championship. The star of the team was one guy who wore his pedometer and kept moving EVERYWHERE. He even marched in place while watching TV after work. His six-year-old daughter started marching with him in his living room, although she wasn't even on the team! With Jason at the helm (no, the team's name was not the "The Argonauts"), the team won the site victory - and Jason kept up his steps for a few weeks after the challenge and dropped 15 pounds.
Dr. James Levine, of the Mayo Clinic, has coined the acronym NEAT, for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Levine's site notes:
Activity Thermogenesis has two constituents, exercise-related activity thermogenesis and Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). For the vast majority of dwellers in the U.S., exercise activity thermogenesis is negligible.
Dr. Levine's research has inspired the treadmill desk - a platform that fits above the control head of a treadmill to hold a laptop, phone, books, and other needed office equipment. Dr. Levine has appeared on Good Morning America to talk about the treadmill desk:
What kind of difference can NEAT make? Here are a couple of screenshots showing my calorie expenditure yesterday:
In this first picture, I've used the bodybugg highlight slider to show my energy expenditure from 3:48 to 4:48, when I was sitting at my desk for the whole period. As you can see, the calorie burn per minute was around 1.2 calories per minute - barely more than the bodybugg program assumes one burns while asleep.
Here, I've focused on the period from 2:30 to 3:30 PM. Instead of working at my desk, I was standing in our shipping room, doing nothing more strenuous than putting archive CDs into shipping envelopes. Yet, that low-level activity more than doubled my calorie burn - and I wasn't even marching in place!
Do I think Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is "just as good" as exercise? Well, looking at the start and end of my work day, you can see the calorie burn from my eight-mile commute to and from work, respectively. This kind of daily exercise (combined with attention to what I eat) has enabled me to lose 30 pounds since I started riding to work back in April. Exercise is GREAT - provided you're ready for it. But I've been riding my bike to work off and on for the past 30 years. I'm experienced and my body responds well to that exercise. If I tried to jog or swim for 90 minutes a day, however, I'd quit after the first week -- if I even lasted that long!
Despite what Gary Taubes or John Cloud might think, exercise CAN work for you - if you can work at the exercise, that is. But if you're not up for that kind of exertion, just "Stepping up" your daily activity can make a huge difference. Isn't that NEAT to know?
Here's the current WHEE diary schedule, so far as I know. Please volunteer...More participants, more fun! Comment to tip jar and I'll add you wherever you wish.
Wed AM - yr humble servant
Wed PM - ???
Thurs AM - ED G
Thurs PM - st minutia
Fri AM - Circle -- WELCOME NEW DIARIST!
Fri PM - ???
Sat AM – Edward Spurlock (Kessler, Ch. 5)
Sat PM - ???
Sun AM –???
Sun PM -Albatross
Mon AM - NC Dem
Mon PM - ???
Tues AM - Clio2 (Kessler, Ch. 6)
Tues PM - ???
Weds AM - Edward Spurlock
Weds PM - ???
It's Time For Back-To-School!
My bike commute runs along the west side of the main University of Texas campus here in Austin. It was a very quiet ride during the summer semester, but now all the students are back, I'm dodging a lot more pedestrians on the way to work. There are compensations, however:
This is actually a picture that was posted to http://pwnedoncamera.com back in July, after the Tour de France -- but that's pretty much how I roll. Or how I would roll, if I didn't have to worry about potholes and dodging other pedestrians. Ah, youth is wasted on the young...