20-Sep-2018 10:26 AM

What you do in between your structured workouts can have more of an effect on your health than you realise, studies find. It all comes down to how you amplify the benefits of what exercise you actually do when you’re not working out.

Head of Research at Les Mills, Bryce Hastings says:

“It’s no good powering through an early morning workout if all you’re going to do is sit on your butt for the rest of the day.”

“We know that even the most well-intentioned exercisers run the risk of negating their efforts by being less physically active than normal for the rest of the day. Or, in some cases, they eat more and consequently overcompensate for the calorie burn.”

However, to maximise what you do get out of exercising comes down to the science of NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. NEAT is the energy expenditure that we don’t typically take in to account. It might be energy expended as we work, stand, walk, talk, tidy the house or even just fidget. 

These small, somewhat trivial everyday activities can have a big impact on our metabolic rate and, as a result, stimulate greater energy expenditure over time. The scale of this effect depends on the amount and type of physical activity you engage in and its thermogenic cost - which means how much the activity drives energy expenditure above your resting metabolic rate.

It is important to remember however that not all NEAT is equal. Biological factors such as weight, gender and body composition can create significant variances. Essentially, the larger your body is the more energy it takes to move it.

Studies show that lean men and women stand, walk and fidget significantly more during the day, which results in an additional 350 calories expended. Environmental factors such as culture, wealth, and work setting can also have a big impact. Those who have physical jobs tend to have a high NEAT, while levels of wealth and industrialisation appears to decrease NEAT.

These days, modern fitness trackers provide useful data on the effects of intentional and non-intentional exercise. Using these personal devices to monitor your activity levels can be interesting, but as Head Researcher of Les Mills International, Bryan Hastings points out, you’re better off simply focusing on making your lifestyle as active as possible.

“For some, tracking your steps and monitoring periods of inactivity can be great motivation, but it’s important that you don’t overcomplicate things – after all you don’t want to be sitting on your butt checking your activity stats when simply getting up and going for a walk on a regular basis is all it takes.”

For further information contact Emily Flint at Les Mills p: 6215 8105

Topic: General News

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