Have you heard of NEAT?

NEAT is non-exercise activity thermogenisis, a fancy term for spontaneous physical activity that accumulates as a part of your normal daily routine. It's one of the ideas behind the recommendations to take the stairs whenever possible and to park further away from store entrances when shopping.

According to a recent study conducted by Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, James Levine and colleagues, lean people spend a daily average of 150 fewer minutes sitting than obese individuals do. In terms of weight management, these findings have tremendous implications when you consider that ALL human movement REQUIRES the usage of calories. Whether you're exercising, doing household chores, running errands, or tapping your foot, every time your muscles flex, your caloric needs are that much higher than if you remained still and sedentary.

Now don't go overboard with the idea.

Simply fidgeting and twitching won't make you any fitter or leaner. It also won't give you license to dive head first into a bowl of chips and guacamole. With accumulation, however, taking the stairs and parking farther away does add to your overall level of activity and with consistency it will add to your general health. Another benefit is that it can help to keep you in the "fit mindset" throughout the day.

As we head full steam into the holiday season, and your schedule tightens, keep this in mind. Continue to plan your workouts just the same, of course, but also look for ways to incorporate additional activity into your day. This will be especially important for burning those extra calories from holiday goodies and favorites. Remember, even a little more activity can have a huge impact on your bottom line - both literally and figuratively.

For more info on the NEAT study and James Levine, visit Mayo Clinic Research

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