Remember life before the Internet and smartphones?
Let’s have a moment of silence for those days before the era when people developed the posture of candy canes.
Today, I sit here typing on my computer while my cell phone pings with messages and Facebook alerts pop up that need my attention right away! And I hardly have to move more than a finger to respond to any of these things.
Therein lies the problem.
Getting a message to someone no longer requires running down the street to alert the townspeople by climbing the bell tower. And honestly, would you walk anywhere if you couldn’t add those steps to your pedometer?
This all leads to my point today: We’ve become lazy shlubs less active.
It’s not just about sitting around and its link to an increased risk of all kinds of health issues, like heart disease. It’s also a matter of not moving enough to burn the calories we eat, as we did in our formative years, when entertainment involved archaic activities like “going outside to play.”
Lack of movement means fewer calories burned, which equals more fat stored – and BAM! So, of course we blame aging. Yes, it’s easier to gain weight as we get older, but it’s not inevitable.
A shift in weight distribution due to hormonal changes (less estrogen) makes us more prone to belly fat, yes. But weight gain itself? That’s optional.
Before you start Googling my address to send me a bouquet of dead flowers, let me ask you: If this were true, wouldn’t EVERY post-menopausal woman gain weight?
Clearly, it’s not the case.
Many post-menopausal women (myself included) do not gain weight if they eat healthy and stay active.
So where lies the issue? We slow the heck down. And we lose muscle. The good news is, you can do something about both of these things. A lot, actually.
First, the loss of muscle. This process starts in our 30s and only worsens with age. It’s why your metabolism slows down as you get older.
Muscles burn calories at rest and literally make up your “resting metabolism.” In other words, more muscle equals a higher metabolism throughout the day when you’re living life.
As for slowing down in general…
Most of us count the calories burned during exercise, using the cardio machine monitor to reach a certain goal (which are far from accurate) and making sure it’s an even number that aligns with the number of workout minutes – or you keep going until it’s all synched up.
Or maybe that’s just me.
In reality, the calories you burn outside of your workout count for far more.
How so, you say?
Known as NEAT, for “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis,” the term refers to all little movements you do throughout the day – fidgeting, getting up and down to pee a hundred times a day from drinking the recommended 11 cups a day, playing with the cat, and otherwise annoying anyone within a 10-yard radius.
All those activities add up to a lot of extra calories burned over time. Studies show lean people tend to be more fidgety than obese people.
The latter spend more than two hours a day simply sitting still.
All the talking with their hands and foot-tapping amounts to burning approximately 350 extra calories a day, which could add up to a 30-lb weight loss in a year (a pound of fat = 3,500 calories).
Sedentary people use only around 15% of their calorie burn doing NEAT, while their active counterparts move enough for NEAT to comprise 50% of their daily burn.
So yes, you can burn hundreds of extra calories by simply being more active during the day – without doing any type of structured exercise.
Sounds simple, right? Well, surprise! It actually is simple, for once.
And – bonus! – it’s also easy.
No sweat, literally.
Incorporate more movement into your everyday activities and you’ll soon see the scale veer off in the right direction.
The key: Give it time! This isn’t a get-thin-quick scheme (and those never work in the long term anyway).
Add a few of the below activities, cut out 100 to 200 calories (that’s a couple bites of lasagna), and you will see results.
For more NEAT ideas PLUS other tips on ways to rev up your metabolism click HERE for my free guide!
What NEAT activities do you do each day? What else can you add to your daily calorie burn? Let’s chat!