Dance Like Your Health Depends On It
The Habits of Health system incorporates two different kinds of motion. One is exercise activity thermogenesis, which is fancy way of saying traditional scheduled exercise like lifting weights or going for a run. The other type of motion we use is non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which encompasses all of the little things that we do throughout the day that require our body to burn energy.
You might not consider standing while you talk on your phone exercise, but it does in fact require your body to spend energy. In the fight against obesity, every calorie burned counts, and those small wins push us forward on our path to Optimal Wellbeing.
The power of the NEAT System is that you can do it right now and can continue doing it into our 90s and 100s. Since it doesn’t feel like work in the way that trudging into the gym might, these little wins can also be easier to rack up. Just by making NEAT motions a part of your daily routine, you’ll soon accomplish your primary goal of offloading a couple of hundred calories each day, and that’s going to help your energy management system function flawlessly, indefinitely.
There are six parts of the NEAT System within the Habits of Health, but today I wanted to talk about dancing.
If you put on a song you like, watch what happens. You might start tapping your pencil or your foot, or even singing at the top of your lungs!
There’s a term for music’s capacity to lift us up this way: ergogenic. An ergogenic aid is anything outside of your body that boosts physical or mental performance, either by increasing your capacity to perform, removing psychological constraints to performance, or speeding your recovery after exertion. This is why music is so popular among weight lifters. It actually does help! It turns out that music and rhythm can help decrease inflammation.
For the purposes of NEAT, though, we harness music’s ability to enhance motion by amplifying brain arousal, a phenomenon that researchers have shown actually increases the intensity of your activity, which means burning more calories. If you’re moving, you’re probably on the right path!
The best way to make music a force for health in your life is to incorporate it into your daily routine as much as possible. If you can do it safely and without interrupting your responsibilities, listening to an iPod at work and help to keep your mood up and to keep you moving throughout the day. At home, use music to augment everything you do on your own, from gardening to cleaning. You might also feel compelled to go even farther, like registering for a dance class, and that’s great!
Your daily goal should be to get at least 10 minutes of music and dance in a day. If you can get more than an hour a week, that’s even better.
Remember that NEAT doesn’t mean that you have to dance until you’re out of breath or tired. Your ten minutes of music could be gently bobbing to your favorite Pandora station while you sort through papers at work or singing in your car on your drive home work from work. We’re after little bits of activity that are so easy you’d have to put more work into failing.
So get to dancing!