I would argue that many people would be much healthier if they stopped going to the gym.
Low-level, all-day movement is a core tenet of the Blue Zones, parts of the world with the greatest longevity and vitality. In other words, the world’s healthiest and happiest move all day long, whether it’s gardening, doing chores, or playing an instrument.
This type of movement burns calories, called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). And it’s just as important as our higher-intensity exercise as a means to optimize human performance.
The Science Behind NEAT
NEAT is our most predominant form of energy burn (greater than deliberate exercise) and it’s linked to better weight management, less risk of metabolic disease, cardiovascular events, and all-cause mortality.
Research also shows that an hour in the gym does not offset a day of sitting, which makes NEAT an important lifestyle component for all people, regardless of exercise level.
Getting More NEAT
You’re best off breaking up your day to stretch, walk, do whatever feels right as long as you’re moving and honoring work rhythms. We call these “movement snacks.” Try:
- Taking a 5-minute movement break every hour.
- 30 jumping jacks every 30 minutes.
- Going for walks before and/or after work.
- Stretching while you watch TV.
Personally, I have a mat, resistance bands, and pull-up bar set up next to my workstation, and I do 2-3 exercises/stretches at least every hour.
The adoption of wellbeing practices doesn’t have to be complicated! As a leader, encouraging your team to work movement into their day can reduce employee disengagement and increase team productivity.