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Letting you in on the secret of NEAT with our 30 day movement challenge

Regular exercise is an important foundation for anyone who wants to be fit and healthy, but exercise alone isn’t enough. Here’s why, and what you can do about it.

Walk down any street and you'll see people of all shapes and sizes, particularly when it comes to weight and body fat. A lean person usually carries enough energy as fat to last 2-3 months at most, whereas an obese person can last for over a year! In simple terms, this difference is related to energy balance – the difference between energy expenditure (activity) versus energy intake (food and drink). Take in more than you use and the excess is stored as fat, reverse this and you’ll use up stored body fat. Simple enough, but there’s a little more to it...

The total amount of energy you expend in a given day is divided up like this:

  • Resting
    You may know this as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and is the energy used at rest. You may be surprised to know that this can account for as much as 60% of total energy expenditure for the day (we’ll talk more about how to increase this later).

  • Eating
    Eating, digesting and processing your food accounts for around 10-15% of energy expended in a day.  Studies have shown that the digestion of an average meal, causes the resting metabolic rate to increase by 50% for around four hours.

  • General activity (or inactivity)
    This is divided into activity associated with exercise, plus everything else. The scientific name for 'everything else' is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) and relates to the things you do outside of exercise that use up energy. These include everything from chewing, fidgeting and talking, to filling the dishwasher and pacing around. Studies indicate that NEAT explains much of the differences in energy expenditure between individuals, ranging from 15 to 50% of total calories expended in sedentary versus active people. There's also compelling research evidence that too much sitting is such a risk to health that experts are recommending 'fidget breaks' after 20 minutes of sitting down.

So, if you want to lose the muffin tops, you can’t workout and flop on the sofa – you need to increase your NEAT levels too. Try the Hiitgirl 30 day pedometer challenge and see what a difference moving around can make to your appearance and mood.

This is where your pedometer comes into play. The one we recommend is used in many scientific studies and has been shown to be one of the most accurate for a general population. Follow the instructions carefully on how it should be worn as this can affect your measurement.

Step One - Calculate your baseline

  1. Wear your pedometer all day, from as soon as you get up to when you go to bed. Before you hit the hay write down the number of steps for the day.
  2. Do this for three different days, preferably two weekdays and one weekend day to get a fair reflection of the pattern of your week. 
  3. Don't do anything different because you're wearing a pedometer, it will only distort your baseline and make it tougher for you to make progress. 
  4. Add the figures together and then divide by three to get your baseline activity level.  E.g. (Day 1 - 6,320) + (Day 2 - 7,100) + (Day 3 - 6,760) = 20,180 / 3 = 6,726
  5. Armed with your baseline you need to wear your pedometer for the next 30 days and record your step count at the end of each day.
Your 30 day target is to make sure you NEVER drop below your daily baseline!

Step Two – Step it up

On your non-Hiitgirl days top up your NEAT levels with 30 minutes of steps at ‘exercise pace’. This is purposeful walking rather than a dawdle and corresponds to around 120 steps a minute - 3,600 steps in 30 minutes.  At the end of the 30 day challenge you should be able to hit 10,000 steps in a day. Don’t forget to keep your pedometer on all day and let everyone know how you get on – good luck!

How close can you get to the 30 day perfect score of 300,000 steps?