In the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, more people are working from home than ever before. While making your own schedule and wearing pajamas all day can be nice, this “new normal” can pose challenges to reaching our health and fitness goals. One in particular is non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT refers to the energy an individual expends for everything except sleeping, eating, or sports-like exercise. This includes movements such as standing, fidgeting, walking to work, typing, grocery shopping, yard work, etc.. If you are someone who once walked to work or even to your favorite lunch spot, those extra steps have likely been reduced to walking from the home office to the refrigerator or ordering take out. Instead of stopping for groceries on your way home from the office, it’s now easier to use contactless forms of shopping such as Instacart or Amazon. These little movements may not seem like much, but they add up throughout the day to create greater overall daily energy expenditure. This basically means the more we move throughout the day, the more calories we burn. According to Dr. James Levine, the Mayo Clinic researcher who continually studies this phenomenon, NEAT movements could result in up to 2,000 calories of extra energy expenditure beyond the basal metabolic rate depending on the individual’s body weight and level of activity. Now more than ever, living an active lifestyle plays a vital role in maintaining good health. The good news is that those health and fitness goals can still be met while working from home simply by incorporating some new habits into your daily routine.
- Set a timer to take a few 15-minute breaks throughout the day to go outside and get some sunshine, stretch, walk your dog, or try some body weight exercises like squats, pushups, or hold a plank.
- If you don’t have time to take breaks throughout the day, try alternating from sitting to standing while you work. Spend 10 minutes standing, followed by 20 minutes of sitting.
- Use an exercise ball to sit on instead of an office chair. It may not sound like much, but sitting on an exercise ball requires much more balance and stability than a normal office chair and will result in using more energy.
- Walk around during meetings. If a call doesn’t require you to be on a laptop, try walking laps while on a call to get in some extra steps and give yourself a nice screen break.
- Make a healthy home-cooked meal! Simple tasks like chopping up veggies, browning meat, or continuously stirring a pot of soup will add in more movement to burn some extra calories
- Villablanca PA, Alegria JR, Mookadam F, Holmes DR Jr, Wright RS, Levine JA. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis in obesity management. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Apr;90(4):509-19. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.001. PMID: 25841254.