A sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at work, life, dieting, losing weight, getting in shape, getting bent out of shape and getting over it with a dose of humor.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A NEAT Concept

I have either reached a new low or a new high point in my life. I can't decide which. I just spent two hours last night playing a recording of a KBTC showing of a John Fogarty concert and dancing around to it in my living room.

In the 20/20 intro seminar they talked a lot about something called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It's the amount of energy you burn throughout the day on top of your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate - or the amount of calories you burn in a day simply by being) that does not come from exercise. i.e. if you spend 7 hours sleeping a day and 1 hour working out, NEAT is the extra energy you burn in the other sixteen hours going about your day on top of what you would have burned if you had just, say, slept through those sixteen hours. This covers everything from showering to shampooing the dog to fidgeting while you are at the supermarket checkout line, which I tend to do an awful lot of thanks to my impatient nature. But I digress. That's not the point. The point is that a Mayo Clinic research conducted by a Dr. Levine showed that the difference in metabolism between an active and a sedentary person comes not so much from exercise or Activity Thermogenesis as from NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Let's take the example of two people. Say they both weigh 150 lbs and exercise 3 times a week for an hour each. However, person A normally goes through the drive thru at the pharmacy, parks near the grocery store or the office entrance and spends a lot of time on the couch upon returning home from work (or a person like me in other words) while person B walks briskly up to the pharmacist, parks further away and spends an hour tidying up the house and sorting mail on returning home from work. According to the same study, person B will have a higher metabolism overall because although both persons are burning the same amount of calories through sleeping and exercising, person B has a higher NEAT. And because our bodies have a memory for these kind of things, even if person B slows down for a day or two his or her body will continue to burn more calories than that of person A.

The really neat thing about NEAT (pardon the pun) is that you can reprogram your body to have higher metabolism by cultivating a more active day to day lifestyle. And the neater thing still is that it doesn't mean that you have to start coaching your son's or niece's little league baseball team anytime soon for this to happen. A person's NEAT can be increased by simply standing up when you would normally seat (at the computer for example), walking when you would normally stand, pacing when you talk on the phone, dancing around in your living room or even fidgeting at the bus stop. It's all these little motions in addition to your normal routine that add up over the 16 hours x 60 minutes x 60 second of your day to make a significant difference in your metabolism. Do the math. Even if you raise your metabolism by .02 calories/second we are talking 16 x 60 x 60 = 57600 x .02 = 1152 calories/day. Okay, so 57600 is a lot of seconds to fidget without a stop but if you do it even a third of the time, you have still burned an additional 384 calories in a day.

So, I am not sure exactly how many calories I burned in that 2 hours last night but I know I raised my NEAT. And that's pretty neat come to think of it.

Talking of neat things, I also got to go shopping yesterday after work and picked up some more rewards.


From left to right, clockwise starting with the lip balm. Vanilla honey lip balm, Pro Club pink breast cancer awareness water bottle, pink index cards for jotting down exercises, black 4x7 6-ring binder for logging workouts and a reward that wasn't on my list originally - Revlon Super Lustrous lipgloss in Pearl Plum. The lip balm was for completing a rather challenging 2nd week after a disappointing first, the water bottle for fitting in an hour of cardio in a very busy day, the index cards & the exercise log book for sticking to my 5 days/week minimum exercise goal and the lip gloss for making it through "LemonCakeGate" and onto my 5th week.

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