Burn Calories at the Office
In a 2005 study, James Levine, M.D., professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, confirmed that people who are less sedentary are less likely to gain weight. Subjects were overfed by 1,000 calories a day and wore sensors that monitored their movement. “In the people we studied, there was a tenfold variability in body-fat gain,” says Levine. “We had one person who ate those excess calories and stored every single one of them as body fat. Another person essentially burned off all the extra fuel. How? Through NEAT.”
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT as Levine dubs it, refers to the calories you burn living your life: doing the laundry, making your bed, mowing the lawn. The more active you are the less likely you are to put on weight. “People who can switch on their NEAT are able to remain thin, despite periods of overfeeding,” says Levine. The trick is to become more active in your day-to-day life.
One of the best places to start is at the office, where we spend most of our day sitting. To implement a NEAT-friendly environment, Levine suggests making the following pitch to your boss who may be more open to the idea than you think. “You’ll find that most bosses will respond positively,” says Levine. “No one wants to be seen as the unhealthy boss.” Schedule a walking meeting with your boss to give your game plan a trial run, and share this set of reasons why NEAT is good for business.
1. NEAT is low-budget. “It doesn’t cost any money at all,” says Levine. It may even help save on couriers, electricity, and delivery fees. Propose small changes on a trial basis, like creating a walking track with tape.
2. NEAT saves time. Walking meetings save staff from dull PowerPoint presentations and prevent unproductive e-mails.
3. NEAT improves relationships. Face time enhances relationships with colleagues and clients.
4. NEAT enhances productivity. NEAT cuts down on idle web surfing, and physical movement awakens the body and mind. You’ll be more alert and creative, and less apt to daydream.
5. NEAT is contagious. Start a walking club to rally support and show the benefits of NEAT to your colleagues. When you share NEAT, it starts a trend. “We call that the NEAT ripple,” says Levine. “It always ripples to someone else.”