Metabolic Conditioning: Different Perspective

This is a personal summary and take away of a talk I attended at the NCSA Personal Trainer's Conference given by Len Kravitz, PhD.

As CrossFittians, when we wear the term "metabolic conditioning" we often think "MetCon!?!? YOU STOP YOU LOSE! THREE TWO ONE GO!!!!!1!!11"

Oh, the burnz!
And to many, the same idea to mind in some form or another, whether you call it conditioning, circuit training, plyometrics. or CrossFit. When Len Kravitz champions is a different form of metabolic conditioning he refers to as NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Basically, this is any movement that is not sleeping or not part of sports-like or exercise-like movement. Straight quotes from the lecture include "'changes in NEAT accompany experimentally induced changes in energy balance and may be important in the physiology of weight change." Also, "can burn 269 to 477 more kilocalories per day."

So what specifically can be included in NEAT type of movement? For instance, every time you sit down, you sit, then stand, then sit again. And then when you stand up, you stand, sit, stand. Think of how many times throughout the day you do each  movement and how much extra, non-exhaustive movement doing that little routine will add.

Of course, you might start looking like Jack Nicholson in "As Good as it Gets", locking and unlocking his door precisely 13 times.

What information do we have that would back up this activity?

According to one study, lean participants spent about 562 min moving about (non-exercise movement) and obese participants spent 373 mins moving about. Thats ~150 mins more easy movement that separated the lean from the obese.

Personal opinion: all this data and results is from the presumption of a calories-in vs. calories-out paradigm. I know a lot of people who still believe in the cal-in/ cal-out method of exercise. And not to say that calories aren't important, you over eat, your body WILL store excess as body fat, but to rely on this completely ignores the hormonal influence that macronutrients and nutrient timing have on our systems.

Recommended reading: "Why We Get Fat (and what we can do about it)" by Gary Taubes. Also check out the recent book release by Robert Lustig, "Fat Chance." Reviews of these should be posts unto themselves.

Personal opinion: it can't hurt to do these extras: The sit-stand-sit routine, take the longer route around your office to your desk, stand up while reading papers or reports, walk to a coworker rather than email, park further from the store to walk further. It's not going to hurt, and you shouldn't live your life in a rush anyways (hello, cortisol!).

How much of a difference will it make? I would guess that any changes in your waistline would result not from the extra activity so much as the slowing down of your day, the increased interactions you'll have with other people. Namely, it could have a psychological impact that can help with weight loss. Give it a try.