It's all the stuff we didn't realise mattered – until we stopped doing it! If recent months have taught us anything, it's how much activity we do as part of our normal life contributes to our energy burn.
It's called 'NEAT' – the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. The drastic change in routine meant that many of the daily tasks we did were restricted, and as a result, we burned far fewer calories throughout the day. A week or two might not have an impact, but a month or two and we may have started to notice gradual weight creep!
Now we're starting to resume a level of normality, we will naturally be building back in more activity and calorie burning potential.
ALL movement requires energy and therefore burns calories, so try fidgeting! Move your foot, shake your leg, twizzle a pen between your fingers...ideally without annoying people around you!
When you move, try to do it with more conviction. Walk purposefully, put some effort into running up the stairs - just try and be more aware of your body when doing physical activity and be conscious of the energy you are putting into your movements.
We naturally walk to the closest bus stop, or look for a parking space as close as possible to where we're going, or load up with all our shopping bags to avoid another trip back to the car. Instead try and make life a bit less convenient and instead park further away, or carry one bag into the house at a time. It all adds up!
In your head tell yourself the lift is broken so you have no option but to take the stairs. You may even beat the lift-users! Plus you can feel smug knowing you've burned a few extra calories and used some bum-lifting muscles in the process! Or while at home, always use the loo on a different floor (if you're lucky enough to have two!) so you have to go up and down the stairs.
Look for more opportunities to stand throughout the day rather than sitting. Opt to stand up during virtual meetings with your colleagues, consider investing in a stand-up desk and walk around while on the phone to friends and family. Standing requires much more energy than sitting, plus moving your legs improves blood flow and circulation.
Rather than waiting until you're bursting for the loo, allow enough time to use the facilities furthest away from where you are sat - either in your house or place of work. You'll feel better for a few minutes longer screen break and youâll boost your daily step count as well.
Ideally, we should move a little at least once an hour to help keep our blood circulating properly and take any unnecessary pressure off our blood vessels. So get up and walk around for a few minutes or do a couple of squats or a quick dance - it all helps, and burns a few extra calories too.
Rather than popping a pizza in the oven and sitting down to check your social media while it cooks, why not stick on your favourite music and cook from scratch. This will keep you on your feet for another 20-30 minutes – helping to burn some extra calories. And youâll hopefully have a more nutritious meal too.
Give your appliances a rest and wash the pots by hand or hang the washing outside to dry rather than sticking it in the tumble dryer. You could save a little on your home energy costs, while spending more of your biological energy!
It's true that laughing burns calories and it also makes us feel great! So, when you do finally put your feet up, stick something funny on!
This is technically not a contributor to NEAT but to the thermic effect of food – it's close enough! Out of the macronutrients protein requires the most energy in order to be digested, above fat and carbs, so eating more protein can actually lead to a bigger calorie burn throughout the day. Aim to include more day to day but avoid having excessive amounts. To find out more about healthy protein intakes read this.
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.