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Is fidgeting the key to life?

If you are trying to improve your health and wellbeing, structured and regular exercise is bound to be part of your programme. However, we also have the ability to use up our stored white fat with what is known as N.E.A.T – or “non-exercise activity thermogenesis”

NEAT can be considered as the energy fat burn we create as we go about our daily lives and how still or active we are. This can range from what we do in our jobs, everyday lives, to nervous tension and overall fidgeting or not sitting still.

So, if you are interested in ways to boost your health, without having to put your trainers on, here are some top tips:

An urban environment can contribute to a reduction in NEAT – little things such as drive through restaurants, click, and collect, escalators, and maybe having to drive to a park to exercise, go to school, go to work etc.

These small changes can account for lost opportunities to move within our daily lives – and each time we move, we burn more calories and improve our heart and lung system. Stop and think about the little things you could do to help NEAT in an urban environment.

Cold is a key stimulator for increased energy burn, and further boosting your brown fat which can assist your metabolism.

Whilst cold water swimming is well-documented, NEAT relies on non-sport/exercise, so don’t shy away from shivering. Having your home, a little bit cooler, not worrying about shivering as you wait for the bus or before you start your walk.

Food is a natural booster for thermogenesis – we feel warmer when we have eaten as our metabolism increases – but you can also help this by choosing food that you need to chew. Research shows that food that needs more “mastication” increases your metabolism – think of crusty bread rather than soft sliced, crunchy veg and not pureed or overcooked, fruit as opposed to fruit juice etc.

Work – working from home has changed the way that we move around, with the “office” being a few steps away. But little things like a standing desk can help – and with a return to work soon on the horizon, then taking the stairs and walking to work will all help.

Muscles – yes, going to the gym will increase muscle mass and give huge benefits to our body, but this is exercise and not NEAT. However, sitting still with your increased muscle mass means that you will be ticking over a higher calorie burn than someone with less lean tissue.

Try to include short burst of activity within your day – this boosts your metabolism, as well as your concentration and memory. It is all too easy to get engrossed in work, stuck in meetings, and have the pressure of deadlines.

Visual reminders work. Hence why they are trying to ban adverts for junk food from children’s programmes or sweets by the check out. Dopamine is triggered when you see something that makes you feel good. First, put up some visual reminders of going for a walk – this can be an image of yourself outside, a post it notes on the fridge door, a calendar reminder, a date with a friend. Second, remove the visual triggers for food. Hide the chocolate, the wine, the crisps. If you see it, you will want it – and did you know that the more you try to “resist” eating something you want, the stronger dopamine will trigger you to crave it more

Rewards work. Linking good times to your memory helps – think of how many people post up photos of “this time last year/s” on Facebook – you must realise that FB is the second most active site on the whole internet, knows how to keep you enthralled by scrolling through the images and remembering the “good times”. Diaries help – “today I went for a walk and enjoyed” – that works. It helps you remember; it gives you the reward – so when you do your journal, don’t forget to include the positive words at the end of you day. Remind yourself, so that when you are scrolling back through your week, you will feel rewarded.

N.E.A.T works – don’t underestimate moving around. You don’t always have to do a whole set of exercise (although that is always beneficial!) but think about your daily steps, the amount of fidgeting, the getting up and down – even little things like drink water makes you want to go to the loo more and so more steps!

Keep positive – think of your NEAT being a tank of energy that you can use up each day, be able to do all of your chores, exercise, work, and still not be worn out. Little and often is the key

Keep going. Be in control of your health. Be aware of the choices you are making. Be positive. Be kind. Be flexible. But don’t be still xxx


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