I recently got myself an activity tracker and am working on my steps each day! I haven’t really ever counted my steps before, but the more educated I become, the more I realise that incidental movement every day, known as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), is a valuable part of leading a healthy life and can help you to reach your fitness and body goals too!
But what does NEAT mean? Well, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis refers to any and all movement apart from sleeping and training, this includes typing at your desk and brushing your teeth, all the way through to walking from your car to the office. NEAT can have a surprisingly large impact on your total daily energy use and is actually linked to living a longer, healthier life.
As you can imagine, being an online coach has its benefits, mainly that I can work from anywhere, including my home. As a result I have found that on some days the only reason I leave the house is to go to the gym. So even though I’m training, my incidental exercise levels can sometimes be a little low. I’m sure many of you #bossbabes out there can relate! Being a boss babe also means we lead busy lives, so getting the time to train weights as well as fit in cardio can sometimes be a huge ask. This is where my activity tracker came in.
After finishing my powerlifting competition, I went into shred mode as I will be competing in the WBFF World’s very soon! The main way I plan to prep for World’s is to use my Fitbit to track my daily steps. I will be upping my daily step goal as I get closer to my comp, using this to help me keep track of my NEAT each day.
There are plenty of ways you can fit more movement into each day, which is important for everyone, even if you are not aiming to make changes to your body composition. Experts say that sitting is the new smoking, so the less time we spend on our booties, and the more time we spend moving them, the better! Here are my top strategies for fitting more fitness into your busy day:
Get an activity tracker
Activity Trackers come in all shapes and sizes, this means there is one for everyone’s budget and needs. I recommend choosing one that features a heart rate monitor, as this will allow you to easily observe how your body responds to different activities. Depending on which one you choose, many will prompt you to move every hour. So make sure you get up from your desk and take a quick walk, a few deep breaths or stretch your body often! Aiming for 10 000 steps per day equates to about 30 minutes of exercise, and is linked to better weight management and decreased risk of plenty of lifestyle diseases. 90 minutes of active movement throughout the day (e.g. brisk walking) is something we can all aim for! For me (and it should be for everyone as well), NEAT is not inclusive of gym/intense workout activity - it should be the 'incidental' baseline for each day.
Get a standing desk
This could revolutionise your work life! Sitting makes us feel lethargic, whereas standing makes us feel like we’re ready to take on the day’s challenges! A sit to stand desk allows you to choose your set up, depending on your energy levels, how your body is feeling or the task you’re working on. Aside from just spending less time sitting, standing while you work means you are moving your feet and legs more. You can do all kinds of positive movement at a standing desk, such as calf raises, rolling your feet over a massage ball, stretching your calves and other leg muscles, even lunges, squats and upper body stretches and strength work.
Standing desks also aid in ensuring the right posture and spinal position if set up well, like the diagram below!
Have your meetings or catch ups on the go
One of my favorite ways to catch up with my girlfriends is to either train together or head out into the sunshine for a walk. For those that are office based, moving while taking your phone meetings will result in a surprising amount of movement! I always seem to have my clearest thoughts and my best ideas when my body is moving, so you may find your conversations and meetings are taken to the next level if you are getting that blood flowing at the same time!
Have a plan
When you lead a busy life, and you’re trying to lift your game, it’s important to be efficient with your time. Make sure that you are entering the gym with a workout plan in mind; you could create one for yourself, attend a class, book a session with a PT or follow a plan from an online trainer. Whatever the source, hitting the gym with a plan for the majority of your sessions will ensure you are getting the most out of your time there. If you feel like you need a little guidance in this area, I have programs available to suit your individual goals right here!
Go the extra mile at every opportunity
There are countless simple (and effortless) ways to give your body more chances to move, try to make sure you do each of these whenever you get the chance:
- Take the stairs instead of the escalators or lift
- Park a little further away and walk the rest
- Walk to the coffee shop or grocery store instead of driving
- Get off the bus or train one stop early and walk the rest of the way
- Take the long route
- Move during the ad break of your TV show
- Play with your kids (or family members)
- Take an evening walk with your significant other, housemate, or solo!
When in doubt, train
When you are tired, busy, sore, injured, unmotivated JUST SHOW UP! I’m not saying you should push yourself through injuries and exhaustion, all I mean is that you need to make movement and ‘me time’ a PRIORITY. Just head to the gym, or the yoga studio or simply put on your running shoes and do the movement your body is asking for. This may require diverging from your training plan, but getting movement in even when things are hectic, challenging or you are feeling flat will help you find clarity, energy and a more positive frame of mind.