Different lifestyles, stages of motherhood, and work schedules can impact your ability to make it to the gym. It may be a function of time or simply having no energy left after a day spent working, overseeing pick-ups, changing diapers, getting dinner ready, completing the (sometimes endless) bedtime routine, etc. The list goes on.
In this article, we hope to redefine what it means to be “active” so that your body doesn’t get left behind in the scramble of life as a mom. We’ll share with you a simple and scientifically proven strategy that can help you burn 350 calories per day (or more) without setting foot in the gym. The secret? It’s pretty N.E.A.T.
What is N.E.A.T?
N.E.A.T is short for Non-Exercise-Activity-Thermogenesis. It is basically all of the movement and activity that you do throughout the day when not officially “exercising” – including standing, walking, even fidgeting. While it may not seem that significant, it can have an even bigger impact on your activity level than exercise. Think about it: Even if you go to the gym every single day for an hour, that’s still only 7 hours per week. What you do during the other 112+ waking hours of the the week can make a big difference. In fact, research suggests that individuals who move more throughout their day are more likely to reach, or maintain, weight-loss goals than those who engage in a vigorous exercise session, but are sedentary throughout the rest of their day (ACE, 2014).
Incorporating more N.E.A.T into your day
You can fit in truly meaningful movement throughout your day and reap all the substantial benefits (and calorie burn) of increased movement. Here are a few N.E.A.T ideas to get you started:
- Play with your kids! Get down on the ground with little ones, play active games, chase, crawl, whatever you have to do to move your body (and have some fun)
- Find more excuses to take your baby out for a walk in the stroller – to run errands, to soothe to sleep, or to just get some fresh air.
- Take advantage of house cleaning. Vacuuming may be a pain, but it can be great upper body and core work. Or add some great lower body + core work to picking up toys with these tips (assuming your children are too young to pick up their own toys).
- Opt for the stairs when possible. If you live in an apartment, take the stairs to your unit (or get off the elevator a few flights early and take the stairs). If you have stairs in your house, find more excuses to use them more (like using the bathroom on a different floor).
- When sitting and watching TV stand up and move throughout every commercial break.
- Do heel raises or step-touches while brushing your teeth or cooking.
- Walk around while talking on the phone.
- If you drive to work, park in the back of the parking lot.
- If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way.
- If you work on a higher floor, take the stairs. Or, get off the elevator a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way.
- Use a bathroom on a different floor, and take the stairs.
- Pace while on conference calls. NOTE: Research shows that moving while thinking improves your problem-solving abilities (and this will also prevent you from email multi-tasking while on calls).
- Place your garbage can away from your desk so you’ll have to get up every time to throw something away.
- Every time you sit down or get up from your chair perform a few Chair Getups to sneak in some lower body work.
- Opt for a standing desk if you have the opportunity. Just make sure you stand in neutral alignment.
- Instead of emailing or calling a co-worker, swing by that person’s desk or office.
OUT AND ABOUT:
- Try “interval walking” when possible: walk fast for 30 seconds, then regular pace for 60 seconds, and keep alternating.
- Do step-touches or heel raises when waiting in line or for a stoplight.
- If you take public transportation opt to stand instead of sit when that’s an option.
- Schedule a “walk and talk” with friends.
- If you’re at the park with your kids, get involved. Chase your kids around or do races (they typically LOVE races), push them on the swings, hang on the monkey bars, and have some fun!
- Consider tracking your steps (via your phone or a pedometer) and aim for 10,000 steps per day.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. Spend some time brainstorming ideas depending on your specific routine. Remember little things throughout your day can add up to a BIG impact. The more you get in the habit of increasing your movement, the more natural it becomes….and you may just find that you actually enjoy it too.
American Council on Exercise, 2014. The N.E.A.T Way to Exercise.