We’ve all read those magazine articles that say things like, “Take the stairs. Park further away. Take breaks from your desk and walk around the office.” We giggle and roll our eyes because, Hi. We deadlift. At the gym.
We do not need these piddly little movements.
I mean, do you even lift?
All of the focus these days is put on smashing weights, HIIT, throwing barbells over our heads, and going harder, faster, and longer. Don’t get me wrong – those things are fantastic in the proper dosages at the right time, however there is this whole other amazing aspect to health and fitness that is rarely mentioned.
NEPA: an acronym in the world o’ fitness that stands for Non-Exercise Physical Activity.
NEPA is sort of like training’s geeky, forsaken step-child. It’s just as important as any other component of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle, but it totally gets neglected.
So, what activities are considered NEPA?
Walking, bowling, taking the stairs, dancing, gardening, vacuuming, moving, grooving… you get the jist. Basically any type of movement that isn’t your workout.
Elite exercisers such as myself used to think that NEPA was for wussies. “If I’m going to move my body, I’m going to absolutely kill it”, was my supremely immature stance, taking the wildly-popular-but-totally-non-sensical ‘all or nothing’ approach.
What a dumb-dumb.
Now I’m older and (slightly) wiser, and I have come to not only appreciate easier, playful movement, but I seek it out, always making sure to block off time each day to move my bod in a non-exercise related manner.
You May be More Sedentary Than You Think
Yes, you may train 3 – 5 times per week, but what is happening during all of the remaining time when you aren’t training? Most people, including consistent trainees, are much more sedentary than they think they are.
When you go to fill out a questionnaire at the doctor’s office, and it inquires about your activity level, most of us regular gym-goers are hasty to check the “very active” box. However, truth be told, if you train for 90 minutes, four days per week, and then sit on your rump for the rest of your waking hours, you are probably “slightly active” at very best.
Everybody nowadays is glued to either their computer, their smartphone, and/or their desk during the daytime, and their couch at night, which means that moving our body has taken the backseat. For 8+ hours per day, we stare like zombies at illuminated screens while our hamstrings and hip flexors tighten up, our glutes develop amnesia, and our breathing shallows.
Sound familiar? Yeah, for me, too, and that is not how our body is meant to be!
What Can We Do?
Move yo’ body.
One of the physical goals I’ve made for 2014 is to move my body more, in a non-exercise manner. When I’m locked onto my computer (which is most of the time during business hours Monday through Friday), I get up every 30 minutes or so to do something – regular things for me include taking walks, handstand (or other yoga pose) practice, letting the dogs out and throwing the ball for them, putting on some music and getting my groove on, or power cleaning some area of house.
Prevent the Lazies
Habits are formed from repetitive behavior, and it’s all too easy to get into the rut (especially during the colder months) of being lazy. The more you choose to lay on the couch, the more you will want to only ever lay on the couch. On the flip side of this, the more you do things and choose to move your body, the easier and more natural that will become.
Go indoor rock-climbing, to the trampoline park, walk your kids or your dogs, ride your bike, shovel the snow and then do your neighbor’s driveway, or take a walk and listen to some music; it doesn’t really matter what you choose to do, just make a concerted effort to move more every day. It’s important! If you aren’t able to get to the gym or to exercise regularly, this goes double for you!
Additionally, NEPA is good for the mind and soul. We can only hammer away at the same stuff on the computer for so long before our brain starts to turn to mush. We need to stand up, get the blood flowing, and refresh ourselves with a change of scenery in order to function at our best. Just a few 10 minute breaks for activity can make a huge difference!
The recommendation of getting in 10,000 steps per day is fairly common, and I feel is a reasonable thing to shoot for, on your days off from the gym at the very least. If you are unsure of how many steps you are getting in daily, think about investing in a pedometer or a FitBit. I have the FitBit Flex, and I love it for tracking my daily steps.
I’ll tell you a little secret: the first couple of days that I wore my FitBit, I barely logged 4,000 steps – and that included trips to the gym! Now, not a day has gone by that I haven’t surpassed 10,000 steps – some days before noon! I have more energy, and feel happier – probably because I’ve been incentivized to get outside, and to move my body more often. I’m purposely parking much farther than necessary at the gym, the studio, and the grocery store just to ensure more walking.
Move more, because
it feels good.
it aids in recovery.
it’s good for you.
it clears your mind.
it teaches us not to be lazy.
Do you put an emphasis on getting in plenty of daily non-exercise activity? If so, what kinds of things are you doing? Let me know in the comments below!