I am so excited to share with you this book by James Levine and Selene Yeager! This is the book that inspired me to make a workstation out of my treadmill – from which I am presently writing this book review It is an informative and inspiring read brimming with recommendations for how to get more physical activity into one’s daily life. Dr. James Levine, MD, PhD, is a world authority on preventing and treating the global obesity epidemic and director of the NEAT Center at the Mayo Clinic, and Selene Yeager, is a prolific health, fitness, and cycling author and blogger.
Reading this book has given me a new appreciation for physical activity of all types and a sober understanding of the implications of frequent and long-duration sitting. While I would previously have agreed that anyone would be better off standing and moving over sitting, I was quite surprised to learn just how beneficial – and surprisingly easy – a little daily physical activity could be. And I’m not talking about taking daily walks, though that matters quite a bit; the innovative ideas in this book are geared towards incorporating physical activity into the daily routines that people already have. This is very different than carving out time to go for walks or get to the gym, and in some ways it is superior.
As a thought exercise, let’s suppose I successfully get three vigorous gym workouts in a week at about a 550 calories burned per workout (quite a vigorous effort, given that I only weight 155lbs!) At the end of that week I will have burned about 1,650 calories. And let’s add the highly acclaimed Excess Post-exercise Oxogen Consumption factor (referred to as ‘EPOC’) and – somewhat ambitiously – increase this number by 13%, giving us about 1865 calories burned over the week. Now let’s compare this to two hours daily of using my treadmill desk at 2 miles per hour (a very easy pace for typing, reading, using my smartphone, and watching videos); I will have burned 2,100 calories by the end of my week! Not only is this significantly more calories, but it’s much easier to keep this pace up; if I skipped day because I wasn’t feeling well or too busy or any other instance, I still would have burned 1800 calories. And I could easily make it up over the next few days..
But this book is about so much more than just calories in versus calories out; it is about living a life that is closer to nature than modern day, inactive lifestyles. I highly recommend it for all of the tips and related benefits of being more physically active. Depriving oneself of foods and vigorously exerting oneself needlessly are arguably unnatural endeavors, but gentle, all-day physical activity may be much natural. Maybe even more beneficial.
And so now I am obligated by book reviewing tradition to make at least one critical point, and for me it would have to be the disorganized and incomplete citations of the studies and research that are mentioned in this book. Most of them are easy to find by how Evans describes the research (when he mentions where it was done or on what date in addition to what was discovered), but not infrequently he will vaguely mention that there is research backing up one point or another that he is making. But let me be clear: I am in complete agreement with his most important points about daily physical activity, how we need more of it, and how detrimental it is to be missing out on it. Join me and dozens of my clients and stop sitting on the problem