What if I told you that you can lose weight and be more healthy simply by standing up while you work for 4 to 5 hours a day?
Well, it's true, so long as you don't go overboard and eat the wrong things every day or pig out constantly.
There's a guy who has done research on diet and health and has determined that it's all about the little things. That is, the small exercise activities that we do throughout our day. His name is James Levine, an he's an MD and endocrinologist at the Mayo clinic who speaks passionately about the NEAT theory.
NEAT stand for "non-exercise activity thermogenesis" (say that 10 times fast). It's actually very simple though. As James Levine says, NEAT is, "the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sporting-like exercise. NEAT includes all those activities that render us vibrant, unique and independent beings such as dancing, going to work or school, shoveling snow, playing the guitar, swimming or walking in the modern mall."
Dr. Levine says that all of these things we do in the course of our day add up to greater health and calories burned than we can accomplish in a 30 minute frenzy of exercise.
Of course, exercising once a day for 30 minutes or so isn't a bad thing - it's something we should all do at least 3 times a week - but it shouldn't be the only form of movement we get. As Dr. Levine says (paraphrasing here), we are not meant to be go into a frenzy of activity for 20 to 30 minutes and then remain motionless for the other 15.5 hours of hours of our waking day. The short burst of activity is great, but all those smaller things throughout the day really add up to burn calories - plus it's good for you to get some movement throughout the day.
In fact, the NEAT activities can add up to be even more than calories than you can burn in a half hour workout.
This is great news for people who want to lose weight! Diets are so hard to stick to, and sometimes we skip a day or two at the gym. Life doesn't go perfectly according to plan and it's VERY difficult to be disciplined enough to stick exactly to your workout regimen.
The word "regimen" itself is an indicator that it's difficult. Most people don't like to work out and hardly anyone likes to be on a strict diet. Sure, after working out for a while, it can get to be addicting and you like the burn your muscles feel, but it takes a long time to get there. That's another reason that NEAT exercise is great: you don't necessarily have to be working yourself so hard, you just add in little activities here and there through your day.
The number one thing you can do is get a stand-up desk for work. You don't have to stand up all day, and in fact we don't recommend it. Slowly but surely you can build up to standing 4-6 hours of your workday. This alone can burn about 200 calories a day.
A funny thing happens when you start standing up at a desk while working. You start to do other things like swaying back and forth, moving around, bending your knees rhythmically, sort of dancing a little bit - and it's fun! While on a call you might walk around a little bit, or feel a bit more free to walk over to a co-worker's desk rather than email or IM them. These activities all add up as part of NEAT and the amount of calories burned for the day. By incorporating NEAT properly, in a normal day you could burn up to 1,000 calories!
Even better, you're not sedentary. Yes, most people are more worried about losing weight, but sitting down for 8 hours leads to very adverse health risks. We're meant to move around from time to time and working at a stand-up desk or adjustable height desk helps greatly for this.
Dr. Levin points out that as a culture we're immensely more obese (on average) than we were just 40 years ago. Why is this? Many of us seem to be obsessed with the latest diet fads and working out hardcore. Well, it again comes back to fact that diets don't last (we never stick to them) and working out is difficult. Back in the day, there weren't gyms all over like there is now, only pro atheletes or Olympians regularly exercised and yet somehow very few people were overweight.
This is because even though 40 years ago we didn't care about the exercise/diet lifestyle, we lived lived differently. We didn't sit around for most of the day. Perhaps because we had to, but we were much more active during the course of our day. We still ate pretty well, although you could argue that the immediate availability of junk food (i.e. fast food) has contributed to our obesity. It was the fact that we more active on average though the course of a day.
Standing up while working is a simple way to start getting going with NEAT exercises. It's a pretty painless way to start burning calories and getting more active. It's actually fun, too!
The simple act of standing up while working can add years to your life and trim your waistline as well. If you're looking for an adjustable height desk, check out our line of them - we have one to fit any need!