I’ve been spending a lot of time in my garden. To me, nothing says springtime like gardening.
The stores are full of fresh flowers and trees ready to be planted. You feel the crisp air on your skin as you kneel in the sun and lay down new soil.
There’s something so satisfying about working in the garden and seeing your efforts pay off.
Spring is all about cleaning out the old and making space for the new.
Additionally, fresh gardens suggest something meaningful is happening beneath the surface, even if not immediately apparent.
Habits are a lot like that too. You have to take stock of what’s working, overhaul what’s not working, and have the patience that the “new” will grow.
I’ve recently re-introduced a habit: spending an hour a day in the garden. The benefit of carving out this time is that I can think about metaphors for my blog and embrace simple movement throughout the day rather than relying solely on structured workouts.
While most people still associate exercise with intense workouts at the gym, the benefits of incorporating simple movement into our daily lives truly have the most significant impact.
It’s known as NEAT – or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. I posted about it on Instagram last year if you want to watch it here.
NEAT refers to the energy expended in everyday activities that are not considered structured exercise sessions. It includes activities like walking, gardening, cleaning, and even fidgeting.
In its simplest form, your total energy each day comes from a combination of three things:
* The rate at which you process/digest foods you eat (the thermic effect of food TEF): 10%
* The energy your body requires to function when it’s not in motion (your resting metabolic rate (BMR)): 60%
* Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): 30%
By understanding NEAT, we can uncover the surprising health advantages of daily movement compared to a rigid three-day-a-week workout routine.
NEAT contributes significantly to our daily caloric expenditure, often exceeding the energy burned during a formal workout. Research suggests incorporating NEAT activities can increase fat oxidation, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2022) revealed that individuals who engaged in NEAT activities throughout the day burned an additional 350-700 calories compared to those who didn’t, resulting in noticeable health improvements.
The most remarkable thing about NEAT is that a subtle but consistent difference in daily activity and lifestyle can add to a healthier future over time. It’s the #1 strategy to improve your health significantly.
Here are 3 simple ways to incorporate NEAT into your life:
- Active Commuting: Instead of driving, consider walking or biking to work. Studies show active commuting improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces stress, and enhances well-being. A recent survey by the British Medical Journal (2023) found that individuals who actively commuted to work had a 30% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who relied on sedentary transportation.
- Office Wellness: Encourage regular play breaks during office hours. Take a short walk, stretch, or even engage in desk exercises. These small bouts of activity can improve productivity and concentration and reduce the risks associated with prolonged sitting. Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2021) demonstrated that regular movement breaks during work hours reduced musculoskeletal discomfort by 20% and improved mental well-being. And ask a co-worker to join in on the fun!
- Household Chores: Engage in everyday tasks mindfully and energetically. Activities like vacuuming, gardening, or cleaning can contribute significantly to your daily NEAT expenditure while keeping your home tidy. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2022) reported that individuals who spent an extra 30 minutes daily on household chores had a 30% lower risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
So, get out there and find the kind of NEAT activities you can consistently do daily. I included a list of 150 Ways To Move More in my book as a place to start.
As Arthur Ashe so poignantly said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
If you want to come over and help me in the garden, you are more than welcome to do so!🤗
Your coach and friend,
PS: Whenever you are ready, here are three more ways I can help you PLAY for life:
- Click here to grab a copy of my best-selling book: The Play Book: How To Get In The Habit Of Good Health
- Join the FREE 7-Days of Healthy Habits Course that can help you starting today.
- Want to work with me personally on your health habits? Click here to book a call.