I remember when I went to train with one of the Pilates Elders, I was sent a packet of what was expected of me. The last item on the list: No Fidgeting. I laughed and when I called to enquire about a couple of questions I had, I asked if they were serious about the fidgeting rule. I was sure they were not. But they were. They told me I had better not fidget. And when I attended the class, fidgeters were called out by the instructor.
But it turns out that fidgeting might actually be good for you. Why? Because it’s movement. It’s perhaps a sad state that fidgeting, which is really nervous energy is a good thing. If we led more active lives in general, we may not need to fidget. But in 2013 our days involve a lot of sitting so we need to work with what we have and our surroundings. If we are in an office chair eight hours a day, we might as well fidget.
Fidgeting is a form of NEAT. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is basically how many calories you burn when you aren’t exercising, eating, or sleeping. A small research study (but let’s face it most research in health is based on small studies) has show that our NEAT is really important to our health and may be directly related to obesity. Leaner people have a higher NEAT, even if they aren’t exercises per say.
So all that pacing, walking to the water cooler, fidgeting, or standing up during a ball game really makes a difference in your overall health and wellness. What research on NEAT reveals is that the body wants to and is meant to move.
The research showed that obese people spent 2.5 more hours of non-movement than sedentary lean people. This means, everyone in the research group was considered a couch potato. Half of them were just lean couch potatoes. Why? The conclusion was the leaner participants have 2.5 hours more NEAT time. It seems obvious. Move more and you’ll burn more calories, but it’s also really simple. Want to lose weight? You need to find ways to sneak in 2.5 hours more movement per day. It doesn’t have to be a run. It doesn’t have to be in one stretch. NEAT is not exercise time, remember. It’s the somewhat random, overall movement you do throughout the day. Standing at your desk can make a difference because simple standing is considered NEAT time. Marching in place while you watch TV can make a difference. Fidgeting while you are sitting can make a difference.
So how many minutes or hours of NEAT time can you add to your day?