SITTING IS NEW SMOKING? NEAT IS THE ANSWER
'Sitting is new Smoking'
These words are making rounds in health and wellness space for quite some time. Research has equated harmful effects of prolonged sitting to smoking. Health dangers of smoking and adverse effects of sitting are now considered equal. 'Sitting disease' is thus a topic of concern in preventive healthcare sector.
Studies suggest that if for an individual the total sitting time in a day is more than 6 hours, she is more prone to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Research dote on importance of sitting less and standing more.
By rule of thumb, we should alternate every 20 minutes of sitting with standing. Some Scandinavian countries have brought a new legislation thereby including right of employees to stand during work. Organisations there have included treadmill desks, height adjustable work desks and other sit-stand solutions in their regular office infrastructure. While there is lot of catching up that has to be done in this space in our country, we can still reap benefits of these sit-stand solutions and that too without any dedicated infrastructure.
The answer is NEAT.
NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
Our body needs energy for all activities. That energy is derived from food.
(Distracted-me: Few days ago, I was reading about air plants; plants which don't need soil. They absorb nutrients and water from atmosphere. While reading it, I entered into a cycle of multiple clicks and ended up reading a concept called Inedia (also called breatharianism ). Breatharianism suggests that it is possible for human beings to survive without consuming food and water. The proponents of this concept claim that 'Prana' (life force) is sufficient to keep a person living. Phew! Ask me. There are only two days in a year when I have to live without food and water. Those two days are Teej and Karvachowth. And by the end of those days, I curse myself that what silly I am, what an educated fool I am, who does all this fasting these days, that too without even drinking water, why do I follow these and blah blah. But I don't know how, the following year I am again all geared to welcome these events. I wait eagerly for them and get dressed and prepped for the occasions. Maybe the preparations and festivity part keeps me hooked. God knows! But the net result is; I love these fasts and festivals. But I didn't-so-much-love-this-concept-of-inedia. How could a foodie-Taurean like me ever like such concepts...Distraction over.)
Food we eat provides energy which in turn helps sustain life processes.
If the energy that we gain from food remains more than our energy expenditure, we gain weight.
And if it is other way round, we lose weight.
There are 3 components of our daily energy expenditure:
|BMR+ DIT+ AIT = Total energy expended |
BMR is Basal Metabolic Rate; and it is the energy required for vital processes like breathing, thinking etc (This part of energy largely goes unnoticed. Even as we blink our eyes, body actually has to spend some energy for movement of the eye-lids)
DIT is Diet Induced Thermogenesis . This is the energy expended by body in response to food like digestion, assimilation and other food related processes that require expenditure of energy.
AIT is Activity Induced Thermogenesis. This again is divided into exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
NEAT, is also our tool against obesity.
If we manage this part of the energy equation, we would be able to significantly increase the amount of energy expended and thereby increase the amount of calories burnt.
Following are few steps that we can take right away to manage NEAT-
1.To begin with, leave that chair. Stand more and move more.
2.Alternate your work with frequent activity breaks like moderate stretches, little walking, twisting around et cetera.
3.Take stairs instead of elevator.
4.Park your car really far from destination.
5.In office, try to go directly to your colleague instead of dropping an email or call. To walk more, prefer face to face communication over other methods (In my case, that channel of communication is called 'DAAK'. In a governmental set-up, this is a system through which letters and papers are sent from one section to another. Once a letter is signed, the departmental peon carries and delivers them to and fro. I wonder my peon might sense job insecurity if I start fetching my own 'DAAK'. But she is a nice lady, I will coax her :) )
6.For meetings, finalise on a lawn or a garden as venue; where we can walk and talk.
These were few steps that I could think of right now. More suggestions on sitting less and moving more are welcomed.
Do find out other ways to sit less, stand more, move more. And then come back, drop a comment here and let others know about it.
Are you still sitting?
Back to work.
Pic courtesy: http://www.afcindustries.com/