Today, I want to talk to you a little about something called NEPA. NEPA stands for non-exercise physical activity and is something that is often overlooked when people set goals to lose fat or get healthier. Unfortunately, NEPA is rarely included in a strategy to attack these goals.
NEPA is basically non-strenuous movement. It can include leisurely walks, light stretching, and just moving around your office or house.
The reason I want to talk about NEPA is because there have been several new studies showing the importance of being more active throughout the day.
It is great to come into the gym 2-3 times a week and get in a great workout, but that is only a few hours of your week. What you do during those hours outside of the gym can often make or break whether you achieve your goal(s).
If you consistently crush 2-3 workouts a week, but then sit at a desk or couch most of the other hours you are not going to see the results you desire. A recent study actually found that if you sit too much you are at an increased risk of mortality, even if you are regularly exercising.
Another study found that minimal intensity physical activity (standing and walking) improves insulin sensitivity and plasma lipids more than shorter periods of moderate to vigorous exercise when energy expenditure is matched.
In this study, subjects were split into three groups – the sedentary group (1 hour of walking, 1 hour of standing, 14 hours and sitting, and 8 hours of sleeping), the exercise group (same as the sitting group except 1 hour of sitting was replaced with one hour of intense exercise on a bike), and the minimal exercise group (same as the sitting group except replaced 6 hours of sitting with 4 hours of walking at a leisurely pace and 2 hours of standing).
The results showed that the minimal exercise group had greater benefits than the other two groups in measures of insulin sensitivity (you want to be insulin sensitive), triglycerides, and non-HDL cholesterol. Pretty crazy, considering the two exercise groups had the same energy expenditure.
Now, I do not want to take away from the benefits of a hard workout. If you are time constrained and/or want to get stronger, lose fat, build athleticism, etc. then strength training is definitely the best tool to achieve your goal(s). I am just trying to build your awareness of how important it is to try and stay active outside of the gym.
So how can you be more active outside of the gym?
-Perform light stretches and/or your warm-up (IFAST clients!:) ) everyday.
-Set a timer for every 15-30 minutes and get up and move around for a second. Every hour try and take a lap around the office or building.
-Consider moving from sitting to standing if you work at a desk all day. It is best to have the option to move between the two.
-Go for a leisurely walk sometime during the day.
-Plan a hike with family or friends on the weekends.
-Buy a pedometer and aim for a certain number of steps each day. A good goal is 10,000 steps a day.
Now remember, this activity outside of the gym does not have to be strenuous. It can be as simple as standing for a short time or walking around.
These additional activities should not add stress to your life. In fact, they should help with stress and promote a relaxed state.
Now stand up and move around a little because i am sure you have been sitting down to read this:)