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Is Corporate Wellness NEAT?

Posted by Joel Campbell on: June 13th, 2012

Step Success has been doing a lot of research recently into the positive effects of exercise and increasing activity levels. We already know that majority of people spend on average 40% of their waking hours at work, where it’s hard to either exercise due to lack of facilities or take time away from the desk and phone for a short walk.


The end result is you work hard at your desk all day, then dash down to the gym each evening for a good half-hour workout. But are you really doing enough to keep your body fit?


According to recent studies, even regular vigorous gym sessions can’t counter the negative effects of staying in your seat and sedentary while at work.

In fact, the best way to peak fitness is to keep moving from nine to five.


*Dr James Levine, from America’s world-renowned Mayo Clinic, is the man behind this theory. He says lengthy periods of sitting can cancel out the health benefits of regular exercise. In fact some simple everyday activities such as parking a little further from the office and walking the extra distance, standing while making phone calls or taking ten minutes in every hour to stretch your legs can make a huge difference to your physical well-being.


That’s because such movement increases something called “non-exercise activity thermogenesis”, or ‘NEAT’.

NEAT is the term that is used for the energy that is expended (calories burned) doing everyday activities.


The average Briton can sit down for 12 to 14 hours a day taking into account the trip to and from work, dropping the children off, sat behind a desk all day, then home for dinner and your favourite TV programme.

Ask yourself how much time did I actual spend stood up today?


The result of too much sitting can be catastrophic

*Australian researchers who tracked nearly 9,000 men and women for six years found that every hour of daily TV viewing increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 18 per cent.

Those who sat and watched television for four or more hours daily had an 80 per cent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who watched fewer than two hours.


*Research also reported that prolonged sitting increased health risks even among people who were physically fit and of a normal body weight. Sitting causes muscles to weaken, stiffens joints and causes fat-burning enzymes to slow their activity by as much as 50 per cent.


What’s the solution?


The answer should be simple, increase activity and movement throughout the day, but is it really that simple? Do I have the time? How do I increase my activity? Where do I start? Can I stay motivated by myself?

At Step Success we have created activity and wellness programmes, strategies and interventions to do exactly that, increase your daily activity. We deliver the programmes during your working day without disrupting your day or routine, showing you how to increase activity levels, help you to sustain the changes and support you every step of the way to make sure you stay motivated and on track.


Some NEAT ideas include:


At Home

  • When watching TV, stand up and walk around when the adverts come on
  • Sit on a stability ball instead of slumping on the sofa – it will give your core muscles a workout
  • Better yet, watch television while working out on a treadmill or exercise bike
  • Catching up with friends and family? Buy a coffee to take away and go for a walk around the area while you chat


At Work

  • Stand up when you answer the phone and ideally pace for the duration of the call
  • Meeting with just one or two colleagues? Talk and walk instead of staying seated around a desk
  • Don’t call or email co-workers – get up and walk to their desk
  • Whenever you’re working at a computer, get up for a few minutes every hour to stretch your back and legs
  • Take the stairs, not the lift
  • Park your car a distance (half a mile, for example) from your office
  • If you take the bus or Tube, get off one or two stops before your destination
  • Use half an hour of your lunch break for a stroll


The truth is that our sedentary lifestyle has stopped us from burning off as much as 1,500 to 2,400 calories a day – not including the time we spend engaged in formal exercise such as jogging, gym-going or swimming.



*Resource – Dr James Levine, from America’s world-renowned Mayo Clinic

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