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Ingleside at Rock Creek Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2016

To be more active in 2016, think NEAT

If your exercise program has fallen by the wayside, the Institute has a suggestion for you: Think NEAT. That acronym stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which includes activity that isn’t formal exercise. Of course, it’s great to join an exercise class, go for a swim or hop on an exercise bike. But even if you’re a regular exerciser, you’ll benefit from moderate activity that you can easily work into your day.

For example, the average 150-pound person can burn 100 to 200 calories per hour while walking the dog, cleaning, vacuuming, gardening, walking up stairs or dancing. Movement involved in cooking, stretching or dusting torches 50 to 100 calories an hour. Even standing, you burn more than 50 calories per hour, and you expend almost that much energy during active seated activities, such as doing crafts.

If you found it too difficult to start a strenuous routine, a NEAT regimen can help you ease into a more active lifestyle. And if you’re on your way to establishing a workout habit, adding NEAT activities can help you burn even more calories and get fitter.

There are good reasons for getting into a NEAT mindset. It reduces sitting time, which AICR recommends for preventing cancer. Sitting less and being more physically active also correlate with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, bone loss and dementia.

Here are five ways to incorporate NEAT activities into your day:

  1. Take every opportunity to stand up and move around. Get up regularly while you’re watching TV or using a computer. Walk around the room while you’re talking on your phone—you can burn twice the number of calories that you’d use if you sat during the phone call.
  2. Reduce your reliance on machines. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Wash your dishes by hand.
  3. Watch less TV. Replace couch time with fun activities like dancing or bowling. Join a Wii sports group.
  4. If you’re doing something that requires long periods of sitting, such as working on a computer, doing a puzzle or working on a hobby or artwork, set a kitchen timer or your smartphone to ring every hour. When it goes off, get up, stretch and move around. Take a 5- or 10-minute walk. Turn on the radio and dance for a few minutes. Over the course of the day, you’ll accumulate a significant amount of movement time.
  5. When you go out to run an errand like grocery shopping, choose a parking spot a little farther away from your destination. While you’re in the supermarket, push your shopping cart briskly through the aisles after you finish your shopping and before you get in the checkout line.

The American Institute for Cancer Research Web site is a great resource that features tools to help you be more physically active, including a quiz to find out if you’re active enough and tips on how to fit more movement into your day. You’ll also find lots of science-based information on healthy eating as well as research and recommendations for reducing cancer risk. The AICR’s Facebook page also provides information, motivation and tasty recipes for healthy meals.

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