Don't Worry Be Healthy: The 24/7 Calorie Burn

-Marissa Tomko

Squeak squeak. Squeak squeak. Squeak squeak. Rustle. Scratch. Squeak.

We’ve all sat next to that person in lecture who just can’t seem to stop moving. I mean seriously, is that straight espresso in your water bottle?

Or maybe, like me, you haven’t sat next to that person because you are that person. If that’s the case, then you know what it’s like to have someone slap your leg to stop you from shaking the whole table. And yes, that is straight espresso in my water bottle.

Being fidgety can be distracting for everyone involved. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. In fact, us fidgeters all have something in common: we are way neater than everybody else!

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is the energy used to perform tasks that are not identified as exercise. NEAT encompasses things like walking to class, taking in your groceries, chewing gum, doing yard work, and—surprise—fidgeting in your seat. Gold’s Gym estimates that the twitchy population can burn up to 350 calories in a day by moving around in their chairs at work or school. But don’t just count on sitting around to rack up your NEAT points. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pacing while you are on the phone, or dancing while you dust your house will turn an average activity into the NEATest experience of your day!

I know this all sounds silly. If you’re thinking that you’re going to be leg shaking your way to a six pack, then okay, you are pretty silly. But avoiding idle days is so important to our health. A study done by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health published in Women’s Health showed that it’s normal to spend 56 hours a week sitting still at a desk or on your couch—thank you, Internet age. But as convenient as technology has made work and play, sitting for so long has some pretty scary effects: it slows down your circulation, and ups your risk for diabetes and heart disease. That’s enough to make me want to fidget more than usual!

Not everyone is hard-wired to rustle around nervously 24/7. In many respects, that is a lucky thing. You’ll never have to explain to people that no, you aren’t anxious about anything, you just can’t sit still for the life of you. If you are one of those people who naturally play it cool, try working in some movement to your daily idle activities. It’ll do your body good!

Image by Ludovic Bertron.

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