Day Crafting Today / Are your days NEAT enough? .

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Are your days NEAT enough?

Why is it that citizens of certain places live significantly longer, healthier lives than the rest of us? These ‘blue zone’ places include Sardinia, Okinawa, Icaria in Greece, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica and a Seventh-day Adventist community in California. What they have in common are some fairly simple lifestyle factors that contribute to their residents’ longevity, such as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity, and a strong sense of community.

I guess we could all move to blue zones and enjoy the benefits but perhaps there is another way. If you don’t live in a blue zone, hope is not lost, perhaps you can design and craft some of the elements into your days

I’ve been researching the physical activity aspects of the blue zone lifestyle that describes the energy expended for everything we do that is not sports-like exercise. It’s termed NEAT which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

NEAT can have a significant impact on overall energy expenditure and weight management as well as keeping your muscles, joints and balance healthier. For example, in the Blue Zone of Okinawa, the older adults typically engage in activities such as gardening, walking, and cleaning, which are all forms of light physical activity. Similarly, in Sardinia, older adults engage in a lot of walking, tending to livestock and working on the land, which all increase their NEAT.

This is where I’d like your contribution. I’m writing the next Day Crafting workbook on self-care and I’d like to include some practical ideas. If we designed our environments, situations and lifestyles so that we had to include more NEAT what could we do?

Here are some of the examples I’ve collated.

  • Park father away so you have to walk a bit further
  • Don’t use the remote control or put it the other side of the room so you have to get up to use it
  • Buy fewer ingredients more often, walk to local shops
  • Cook from scratch, taking longer, moving around as you cook
  • If you’re desk based, get a standing desk Use the toilet on a different floor, or one further away
  • Walk and cycle more, drive less
  • Replace mechanical conveniences.
  • Rake the leaves up, cut the hedge with shears, mix food by hand
  • Move every 20 minutes or so. Set an alarm on your watch to remind you
  • Have walking meetings. Walk while you chat to a friend

I’d love to know what you would add. I’m looking for ideas that kind-of force us to move more. If NEAT activity is left to us feeling like it then I think that we’re less likely to incorporate it – unless you’re temperamentally wired to put more NEAT into your day. Let me know what your suggestions are.

The Practice

There are several ways that people who don’t live in Blue Zones can Day Craft their lifestyles to be more like those of the people who do:

  • Eat a plant-based diet: Blue Zoners tend to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, and low in meat and processed foods.
  • Move naturally: Blue Zoners typically engage in regular, low-level physical activity such as walking, gardening, and other forms of light physical activity. People can try to incorporate more of these types of activities into their daily routine.
  • Prioritis’e social connections: Blue Zoners tend to have strong social connections and a sense of purpose, which can be promoted by joining clubs or groups that align with their interests, volunteering, and spending quality time with friends and family.
  • Find ways to de-stress: Blue Zoners tend to have low levels of chronic stress, which can be promoted by practices such as yoga, meditation, or mindfulness.
  • Build a sense of community: Blue Zoners live in tight-knit communities where people look out for each other. People can try to build a sense of community by volunteering, joining clubs or groups, or participating in neighbourhood events.
  • Take a nap: Napping is a common practice in Blue Zones, people can try taking short naps during the day to improve energy and productivity.

Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to replicate all aspects of a Blue Zone lifestyle, but incorporating even a few of these elements can have a positive impact on overall health and well-being.

Written by Bruce Stanley on Tue, January 31, 2023

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