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Physical Activity and Movement Part 10

Our next foundational principle is total daily movement. In order to see the benefits of exercise, you must increase your total daily movement.


There’s a concept called N-E-A-T, which stands for “non-exercise activity thermogenesis.” This is a term to identify all the different movements that increase calorie burn apart from your basal metabolic rate for the energy balance equation, the equation that determines the energy balance of your body.

Studies have confirmed that by simply increasing NEAT, you can actually positively impact your energy balance and your metabolic rate. On days that you’re not able to exercise as intensely, you can simply use NEAT to accomplish calorie burn goals.

woman standing on a log in a river

Now, I’m not into calorie math. I don’t think that the calorie-in-calorie-out formula is an effective way of focusing on your body weight and your health. I believe that the application of the right habits that are in your body’s design will naturally correct calories in versus calories out, and allow you to maintain healthy weight.

But if you’re trying to burn more calories, using NEAT is one way of doing it. NEAT involves fidgeting, wiggling around, rolling your shoulders, any type of movement whatsoever. They all burn calories, and they feel good to your body. Wiggle your toes in your shoes. Stretch your calves. Roll your wrists. Shake out your fingers. Move your neck around. Pull your shoulders back around, and do shoulder rolls and circles. Tuck in your tummy. Tense your abdominal muscles. Stand on one leg. Squat. Kneel. Lunge. Push. Pull. Climb the stairs. Walk farther.

Take every opportunity to do this. Increase your total daily body movement, and move in different ways. Pay attention to proper technique when you squat. Need to squat down to pick up a book beside your desk? Squat down, pick it up, come up slowly, and enjoy the feeling in your body.

You can use this as a substitute for the gym. Rather than sitting all day, and then thinking you have to go to the gym for an hour so that you can finally move your body, even though you don’t want to go to the gym because you’re tired and it’s the end of your workday, you can use a total increase in daily body movement to negate the need for the gym at all.

man stretching shoulders on the beach

You’re probably not going to be able to use this method to honor the principles of strength and sprinting that we’ll describe later in this series, but you can come close depending on how much privacy you have. You can actually, if you have a private office, do a 4-minute Tabata sequence involving body weight exercise, such as push-ups, squats, lunges, or burpees, and actually honor strength and sprint in 4 minutes during your office day. You would be surprised to know how much benefit there is to that.

Many people think that 4 minutes is not enough time to be effective. They’re wrong. It is. If all you can do that day is that 4 minutes, and then move throughout the day, and pay attention to your posture, you’ll have accomplished something in terms of your physical activity goals.

This becomes much easier once you make it a habit. It is a foundational principle and honors our body’s design.

Are you curious about how to incorporate healthy movement into your daily life? Follow along with this blog series and other free resources. There’s so much to learn about changing your habits for authentic health. You can do this!