Fitness the Blue Zone Way: How to use NEAT to increase your fitness

The NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis-popularized by Dr. James Levine) method emphasizes using everyday activities (such as housework) as a means of promoting fitness. The idea behind NEAT is that small, incremental increases in physical activity throughout the day can add up to significant health benefits.

The ideas behind NEAT align closely to research that has been done related to the activities of people who live in Blue Zones. Blue Zones are areas around the world where people tend to live longer and have a higher quality of life. One of the factors contributing to the health and longevity of individuals in Blue Zones is their active lifestyles, which often involve regular physical activity without the need for scheduled traditional exercise.

Note: Keep in mind that NEAT activities do not replace the need for regular exercise.

Examples of how you can use everyday activities to enhance your longevity and overall fitness:

Walking or biking: Choose to walk or bike instead of driving for short distances whenever possible. This can include running errands, going to nearby stores, or commuting to work. If you must drive to your destination, then take the stairs or park further from the entrance. Walking is a common mode of transportation in Blue Zones.

Active daily tasks: Engage in more physically demanding activities, such as gardening, vacuuming, mopping, or scrubbing floors, as they require more movement and energy expenditure. People in blue zones often engage in physical activities while performing daily tasks. These include gardening, tending to livestock, chopping wood, and other household chores that require physical effort. Gain extra benefits from participating in tasks outdoors.

Take Standing and moving breaks: If you have a sedentary job or spend long hours sitting, make a conscious effort to take regular standing or movement breaks. Set a reminder to get up, stretch, and take a short walk around your workspace every hour. People who live in Blue Zones tend to have occupations such as farming or fishing that keep them active.

Active leisure time: Instead of spending your leisure time watching TV or sitting for extended periods, find activities that involve movement. Dance, play with children or pets, do yoga or stretching exercises, or even engage in hobbies like painting or woodworking. Socializing in blue zones often involves physical activities. People participate in group activities like dancing, traditional games, or sports. People who live in Blue Zones take advantage of the natural environments around them by engaging in activities like hiking, climbing, or working outdoors. They may also engage in traditional practices like tai chi, yoga, or qigong which are activities that not only promote physical fitness but also contribute to mindfulness and mental well-being.

Remember, the key to NEAT is to find ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. Behave like people living in Blue Zones by making movement a natural part of your daily routine. You will accumulate regular exercise without needing to think about it.


Source: Complete Wellness Solutions. Completely Well Newsletter, October 2023

Fitness the Blue Zone Way: How to use NEAT to increase your fitness
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