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By Christina Franken on Nov 20

Join the movement against inactivity

Why non-exercise is just as important as exercise

Sitting is the new Smoking. A sedentary lifestyle or general physical inactivity leads to a higher risk of death than obesity.

Of 9.2 million people who died in Europe in 2008, about 337,000 deaths were associated with obesity, while 676,000 happened due to sedentary lifestyles. Physical inactivity causes 3.2 million deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 670,000 premature deaths of people aged under 60 years are also attributed to sedentariness.

"Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”

Said Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic - Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative in an interview with the LA Times.

What does that mean for me?

If you, like most of us, work in an office and are expected to sit through most of your 8+ hour workday, this means you’re at risk to die prematurely.

As another study concluded, everybody who’s sitting more than 3h per day should know that this shortens their life expectancy by 2 years - what’s most shocking is that these numbers apply regardless of how much someone exercises outside of work, and no matter if they have other habits considered dangerous, such as smoking.

While you probably need to digest these news, we at Human have done our homework to help you claim back those years.

Fit NEAT into your everyday schedule

NEAT is the abbreviation for "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis" which is the part of your everyday activity that doesn’t get your heart pumping like an aerobic workout or a run in the park, but helps just as well to burn the calories of those cookies you had at lunch. Today's workforce lacks NEAT activity because offices have been designed to be convenient, with the intention to enhance productive focus - unfortunately the human body wasn’t designed to sit around offices.

Human Daily Energy Expenditure

A study showed that of 20 self-proclaimed ‘couch potatoes’, those with a healthy body weight seemed to fit unconsciously on average 150min more of non-exercise activity into each and every day than their mildly obese counterparts.

“At any given body weight, going from inactive to active can reduce the risk of premature mortality substantially.” found David L. Katz, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research CenterGriffin Hospital (Forbes)

Scientists recommend individual NEAT-enhancing strategies by consciously fighting against the ‘easier' choice to sit down. These are simple behavioural changes, such as

  • Getting one stop earlier off the bus, tram or metro.
  • Where possible, choose an active commute.
  • Getting up between phases of focused working.
  • Walking to a colleague instead of sending them an email.
  • Choosing the stairs for everything less than 5 storeys.
  • Taking calls while walking around.
  • Arranging walking meetings outdoors.
  • Taking lunch outside the office.
  • Be creative!

Human helps you to fit NEAT into every day by reminding you during office hours from time to time (in intervals of 30 / 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 or 180 minutes) to get up and move. It’s your choice how often you want to / can get disrupted, but this feature will help you to get more non-exercise activity minutes each and every day.

Practicing what we preach

While writing this blog post I got up twice, the first break was to walk around the office during a phone call and the second one was a short trip around the block to catch some afternoon sun. We hope we inspired you to try NEAT and use Human's nudge feature to interweave your day with more highly effective non-exercise.