Studies show sitting too much may hurt our health more than we previously thought. Although it’s a good start, it’s not enough to build in 3 or 4 intense workouts a week to reverse the damage. Movement has to be more regular through the day to make a difference.

Our bodies are made to move, so if you sit still too long, they start to shut down.

After just 30 minutes of sitting, metabolism slows down 90 percent, your body moves less ‘bad fat’ from your arteries to your muscles to be burned off and the muscles in your lower body turn off. Good cholesterol drops 20 percent after just two hours.

But getting up for five minutes can make a difference, and reset your systems.

Movement doesn’t have to be complex. If you’re looking to build more movement into your day, you need to know about non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

NEAT happens when we do almost any activity, even for just a minute or two here and there. Research suggests that individuals who move more throughout the day are more likely to reach or maintain weight-loss goals, compared to those who are sedentary throughout the day and do an intense workout a few times a week.

Believe it or not, you can generate NEAT from daily activities like eating, sleeping, but also from just standing, walking to work, folding laundry and even…fidgeting.

Here are some easy ways to fit more movement into your day:

Stand more

Want more NEAT? Find reasons to get up more often as you work. A standing desk is a great option – allowing you to work from a standing position to break up your sedentary time. If you don’t have one of those, you can set up your own standing work station at the kitchen counter, or just try to get up periodically to take a quick walk to refill your water glass.

If you have a lot of meetings during the work day, get up and walk around (hopefully your wireless will hold up for this approach). Walk and talk as you do meetings by phone. Even just getting up and walking through your office or house makes a difference. Or better yet, meet up with your co-workers, friends and family members and take a walk together. It’s a great way to brainstorm, catch up and build in some regular movement.

Track your steps

If you want to move more but have trouble remembering, there’s an app for that! A wearable fitness tracking device is a perfect tool for the job, but you can also use an app on your mobile device to track your steps and build in more activity.

Take the stairs

Whenever you find yourself about to push an elevator call button, think twice. Look for the nearest stairs and climb up to your destination to add more steps to your daily movement tally. Hint: Going down the stairs also generates NEAT.

Get cleaning

Build more housework into your daily routine. Maybe you sweep the floors, or change the sheets, or declutter your closet. Moving with purpose counts toward your physical activity goals. You’ll raise your heart rate as you straighten up your home.  

Be outstanding in your yard

Raking, mowing, even picking up fallen branches, leaves and sticks is a great way to build in some movement while keeping your mind distracted with the work at hand.  Yard clean-up and planting are great ways to build in activity, get some fresh air and work up an appetite. Getting outside for some yardwork can also help you sleep better.

Play more

Playing was an instinct when we were kids, but as we grow up, all that adulting has us sitting at desks, on the couch, or doing chores. Try building play back into your spare time.  If you have children, it’s easy to know what to do chase, push swings and kick or throw the ball together. If you’re kid-free, try purposely making time for more fun movement – skip down the street, start a water fight, make a snow sculpture with friends or race your partner down the street. Play definitely adds to your NEAT potential.

NEAT can play a major role in helping build more activity into your daily routine. Standing, walking more, even eating counts toward your daily minutes and can contribute to better health. Who knew?!?