Thursday, June 24

Does Redecorating Count As Exercise?

Ah, summer. A time for flip flops, beach trips, hot weather, cool drinks, and home improvement projects. At least that’s what’s happening in my house.

Michael and I promised the kids we’d repaint their rooms and now seemed like a good  time. Amanda, tired of her headache-producing neon green and blue color scheme, would like a more peaceful blue. Yeah, no kidding. Grant has outgrown the adorable, but babyish spaceship themed wallpaper. And Janelle would, of course, like something pink.

So far we’ve moved furniture, vacuumed, washed walls and baseboards, stripped wallpaper, and scraped wallpaper adhesive off the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. The previous owners put a blue, starry wallpaper on the ceiling. It looked really cute, until we decided to remove it. I have plenty of words to describe it now and “cute” is not one of them.

I managed to break away and work out with Marq on Tuesday, but I was wondering, does all this activity count as exercise? Could this be a valid excuse for not going to the gym? Because it sure feels like work.

This reminded me of a lecture Dr. Bill Roodman from the Advanced Wellness Centre gave a few weeks ago. During his workshop on meditation he also discussed something called NEAT, which stands for, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Before I discuss what NEAT means, I have to comment on the theory’s name. I am officially applying for the job of naming stuff, because whoever’s in charge is TERRIBLE. What are scientists thinking? Do they have to make everything sound complicated? Are they afraid they won’t get published in a fancy medical journal if they describe it too simplistically? I think it’s a conspiracy in the medical community. It supports their God complex if they have to interpret everything for us.

Okay, I’m done.

For all its confusing language, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is actually a very simple concept. NEAT refers to the energy expended for everything you do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. Everything else you do that’s active, is NEAT—walking, sitting, typing, performing yard work, washing dishes, even fidgeting.

Not surprising, how active you are in your daily life is a critical component in how you maintain your body weight and/or develop obesity or lose weight.

Thus, even if you can’t get to the gym, you can increase your NEAT level and burn more calories. It’s the 10,000-Steps-A-Day theory. Park farther away from the store entrance, walk from Home Depot to Kroger to Kohl’s instead of drive, take the stairs, shovel snow, rake leaves, move furniture.

That’s it. That’s the big concept. ANY movement to your body is beneficial. Duh.

Now that we understand NEAT, I think it’s time to rename it. The medical community could take a cue from the company Guess what they do? TRANSFER BIG FILES over the Internet. Who would’ve guessed with a name like that!

And how about, The Container Store, Home Depot, Batteries Plus, and Bowl America. It’s pretty clear what you should expect upon entering any one of those establishments.

If I was in charge I’d call it, OYA, OYF (Off Your A** and On Your Feet) This was one of my father’s favorite sayings. Although since he was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army he added “soldier” to the end of it and barked it out at 120 decibels. It was supremely effective at getting me off my a** and on my feet.

Or perhaps we should call it FIG (Fidgeting Is Good). You ever see any fat fidgets? No, you haven’t. There’s a reason for that.

Don’t want a food-related acronym, how about simply, WALK (Walking Around Loses Kilos).

I so need to be in charge of this stuff.

For kicks, I looked up how many calories I was burning redecorating. It turns out I’m burning 482 calories/hour moving furniture, 153 calories/hour vacuuming, and 206 calories/hour removing wallpaper.

Not bad, but I didn’t really break a sweat. So my guess is Marq would say that it’s better than sitting around watching Oprah, but it’s not really a cardio workout.

I tend to agree. Which is why I dragged my tired-been-stripping-wallpaper-and-moving-furniture-all-day body to the gym anyway.

After my sluggish start to the week, I’m back on track. Isn’t that neat? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

[The pictures are of Michael and Amanda using the principals of NEAT. Although I think Amanda would describe it as breaking child labor laws.]


  1. OK,I SO thought that was you in the picture and not Amanda. You must be doing something right!

  2. Can you believe the color of those walls? And how about the ceiling! Never let your kids have total control over paint choices. Going forward, we have veto power.

    By the way - these pictures were taken after we helped devour an entire Costco cheesecake over 3 days. Had to work some of it off.