NEAT: New Meaning to Your Grandparent's Word for Cool
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
The pandemic has ushered in the new and exciting world of work from home, which, love it or hate it, seems to be here to stay; a dream come true for some but, a burden for others. Regardless of your feelings about WFH, it can result in a pretty motionless day. Chances are your commute's been reduced to mere steps, the kitchen is now the cute coffee or lunch spot and, you're simply a phone or Zoom call away from talking to a co-worker. If you pack a lunch and wear a diaper, you’d never have to leave your chair during the day.
This isn't really new problem, though. Years before COVID, we were already dealing with an epidemic of sedentary lifestyles; one, where the tagline sitting is the new smoking emerged, with some startling stats about the dangers sitting for 8 hours a day with little to no activity.
Apparently, there are similar health risks faced by smokers and diabetics - increased levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, just to name a few (1).
Ironically, 100 years ago the belief was that a sedentary office job was healthier – manual labour was actually viewed as more injurious to health because of physical stress. That thought was blown to shit when epidemiologist Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger published his landmark study in 1970.
Dr. Paffenbarger followed longshoremen in San Francisco for 18 years and compared the health of cargo handlers and office workers. He found that cargo handlers typically burned approximately 925cal per 8-hour shift and more importantly – they had a 27% lower death rate when compared to office workers.
But you can't even compare yourself those office workers back then, because chances are even they were more active outside of work. Dutch scientists looked into the last century and found that there is a 60-70% reduction in total daily expenditure, when compared to our ancestors in the early 1900's (2).
The reason? Technology. Time saving items like washing machines, high powered lawnmowers, snowblowers and affordable cars. Plus we have a lot more time wasting technology like television, the internet and social media.
All this sitting makes it much harder for you to maintain or lose weight because of an enzyme called Lipoprotein lipase or LPL. LPL plays a critical role in converting fat into energy; when you remain sedentary for prolonged periods, your LPL levels drop. A day with increased activity helps sustain LPL levels, which will encourage fat conversion. So adding more movement to your day is imperative for managing weight – even if you hit the gym a couple days a week. (3)
Now if you just sighed fuck me as you’re reading this in your home office, working through lunch, eating soup with The Price is Right playing in the background. . .don’t worry, you're not screwed yet – a little daily activity will help reverse these maladies. Studies have shown that moderate daily activity of 60-75 minutes can counteract these health issues. Although that may seem like a lot, it doesn’t have to all be spent lifting weights or doing cardio.