Last week’s post on five family-friendly, delicious and nutritious recipes was a hit with my busy professional readers. I decided to follow it up with the fitness portion of the health and wellness equation, since energy balance is all about both calories in (from food) and calories out (from our bodies’ processes and activities each day).
Are you ready for today’s science lesson? The amount of energy we use each day is called our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). It’s not just about the numbers on the calorie counters at the gym or on your personal tracking device (both of which are notoriously inaccurate, by the way). Nope, the bulk of calories we “burn” in a day aren’t in our Zumba class, but rather the normal daily biological functions that keep us alive and moving. Things like breathing, digesting our food and thinking. Even sleeping! The amount of energy it takes to keep our bodies functioning each day is called our basal metabolic rate (BMR) or resting metabolic rate (RMR). The fact that it takes energy to break down our food for use in our bodies is captured in the thermic effect of eating (TEE). And of course we know that we use energy when we hit the gym or do another kind of workout or class – that’s physical activity (PA). But then we have all of the movement we undertake each day that’s not part of our formal exercise routine. We get out of bed, we brush our teeth, we walk from Point A to Point B, and back to Point A because we forgot why we went to Point B in the first place (or wait, is that just me?). Yup, all this movement adds up! It’s the non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). So TDEE = BMR + TEE + PA + NEAT. Neat, right? NEAT, indeed!
This post is all about ways to increase your NEAT and get more activity into your already busy day. Read on!
Yes, walking is one of the most underrated and highly effective forms of exercise that you can do just about any time, any where. You just need a pair of comfortable, supportive walking shoes (not your heels, no matter how fabulous they may be, or even your loafers – they lack the proper support and cushioning).
Walk up and down the hall, walk around your building, walk outside! Bonus points for getting outside in the fresh air and getting some sunlight for Vitamin D – it can be in short supply in these dwindling daylight hours. Getting adequate exposure to natural sunlight can help to boost your mood and ward of symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Aim to walk for at least ten minutes and up to thirty or more. Each week, try to increase your total to get to 300 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise.
Opportunities abound on the stairs! You can go up and down them to get the blood pumping for a cardiovascular workout. Try different speeds or take the stairs two (or more) at a time. Be sure to hold the handrail for safety if balance is an issue.
Resistance training: you can use the stairs to do incline (or decline) push-ups, triceps dips, step-ups, hip extensions, lateral leg raises, split squats and more! Looking for more workout ideas on the stairs? You can check out the video I posted on my Facebook, here!
Take the Long Way
Take the long way! Yes, every time you need to get up from your desk and go somewhere, take the longest possible (practically speaking) route.
- Going to the washroom? Take the longest walking path there or use the washroom on another floor or in another part of the building.
- Getting something from the printer? Take the longest possible route to the printer or send it to a printer that’s farther from your desk.
- Park as far away as possible in the parking lot.
What other ways can YOU think of to take the long way ’round?
That’s right, I’m combining elements of tips 1-3 (walk, take the stairs, take the long way) and combining them into the No Elevator Challenge (it’s even got its own hashtag). For at least an entire day (week?), no elevators (or escalators). In an apartment building, in an office building, at the airport – wherever you are, you are taking the stairs.
Get your coworkers in on the fun! Challenge each other to see how many flights of stairs you can do each day, and name a daily or weekly winner. I’d love to see you posting your progress on Instagram – be sure to tag me (@thegoldengrahamgirl) and use the hashtag #noelevatorchallenge.
Housework Resistance Training
Catchy, right? This probably already has its own hashtag and signature training program! As we professional working women know, the work day doesn’t end when we leave the office. Oh no, then there’s housework (if you haven’t outsourced this).
If you’re doing housework anyway, let’s get just a little bit more strategic and intentional and make the most of those movements. Sweeping, mopping and vacuuming all allow opportunities for lower body resistance training movements like lunges and squats. As a bonus, the broom, mop or vacuum can assist with balance. For a challenge move, try holding the broom overhead while you squat or lunge.
Dusting and cleaning windows and mirrors allow you to work your arms and shoulders or maybe add in some standing incline push-ups against the kitchen or bathroom countertops. Or put your hands on the edge of a couch or ottoman and drop in a few triceps dips.
Laundry baskets are great for weighted squats or front raises (lifting the basket straight out and up in front of you).
Opportunities abound! Since you’re moving anyway, this is a way to get really time-efficient and spend just a little extra time to boost your fitness AND clean your house. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Have a fit day!