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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

One STEP Closer to Your Weight Loss Goals

By: Andrew Jagim

I have posted several times on some of the benefits of being active and moving around more throughout the day which is hands down one of the simplest recommendations for becoming "healthier" but at the same time probably one of the more difficult strategies to actually following through with.

To give you an example of how important being active is, world-renown researcher Dr. Steven Blair has dedicated his life to highlighting the importance of physical activity in terms of how it can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and ultimately one's overall risk of dying. In fact, the title of a lot of his presentations is revolve around the topic of "Fitness vs. Fatness" and he makes a strong case that activity levels are much more important than your overall weight in terms of your risk of dying.... but that is a topic for another day.  With my "Weight Loss 101" seminars I always highlight the importance of being active throughout the day and reducing sedentary time as much as possible for weight management in addition to its health promoting benefits.


One of the reasons activity levels can help so much with someone's weight loss goals is that daily activity levels contribute to our non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) calorie expenditure.  Calories burned via NEAT can actually make up a fairly substantial amount of our daily calorie expenditure.  Coincidentally, it's also one of the bigger areas of metabolism that takes a "hit" when people lose weight as our bodies seem to self-regulate activity by actually decreasing the amount of calories we burn via NEAT. Part of this is unavoidable as a result of metabolic adaptation (See previous article for more details) however another aspect of it is that we just simply don't move around as much as we lose weight and are dieting whether it be a result of us being tired, hungry, crabby or the fact that our body is just incredibily good at maintaining a constant energy expenditure.  Regardless by focusing on being active we can help to maintain our NEAT energy expenditure which again is one of the simplest ways to help manage one's weight.  Keep in mind, NEAT calorie expenditure and daily activities are outside of your time spent lifting weights or running, or participating in group exercise classes etc. NEAT is everything else you are doing throughout the day. One of the easiest ways to monitor activity levels is by wearing movement trackers! One of the ones I personally use and love is the FitBit.

One of the things I enjoy abbot the FitBit is the online profile and how it does a great job of summarizing weekly and monthly step patters.  I posted previously on how the arrival of our second daughter really took a toll on my monthly step average. (Who wants to walk around when you can snuggle with a baby in a rocking chair all day?!).  Anyways, one of my goals since then has been to get my steps back on track. As you can see in the figure on the left. I was on a steady trend up until October (when the baby came). Since then, I have slowly been getting my step counts back up however in Wisconsin during this time of the year this can become increasingly difficult. I strongly encourage people to purchase some type of activity tracker to get an idea of how active they are on a daily basis. For a general rule of thumb the American Heart Association advocates 10,000 steps a day for the health-promoting benefits but in reality anything is better than nothing!

"10K a day, keeps the doctor away" - Dr. Jagim
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