Friday, August 14

The Missing 9th Protocol

Making Change4Life really N.E.A.T.

There are 8 core messages in the Change4Life campaign, and sometimes they are described poorly, in targeting video gaming over the real bad screen time of TV watching where snacking is the sting in the tail.

The core messages are good, however, and they are (in the order chosen by the Change4Life campaign:

  1. Sugar Swaps - Basic advice to go for the low calorie option
  2. 5 a Day - Sensible stuff, a balanced diet including 5 fruit or veg a day.
  3. Meal Time - Hardest to implement, make a regular time for healthy meals.
  4. Snack Check - 2 Snax Max, and try to turn one junk snack into a healthy one.
  5. Me Sized Meals - This is a good one, make sure meal sizes are appropriate for kids.
  6. Cut Back Fat - Simple advice like grill don't fry, all sound basic advice.
  7. 60 Active Minutes - Moderate to vigorous physical activity! Get some exercise!
  8. Up and About - Limit screen time to 2 hours per day (What about active gaming!!!!!?)

They look pretty sensible on the whole, but there's one missing... and it's a big one. While there is one message promoting explicit exercise there is no message to choose to be more active, no matter how much energy you expend. What we are missing is:

  1. Just Keep Moving
This is so easy and so less daunting than 60 Active Minutes, and it follows the concepts of "Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis". That basically means just keep moving, but it's an important concept that's easier to build into modern life than going to play in the park 365 days a year every evening.

An easy example of N.E.A.T. is to leave you TV remote by the TV instead of on the sofa. If you change channel, get up, move! If you're channel hopping, stay stood up. There's lots of ways you can be NEAT with your life, just think about all the time you are stationary for hours on end. In the office, get up, go speak will a colleague in the same room instead of sending an email!

Change4Life needs to be promoting this message - for most people in modern lives going for an hour of exercise a day is just not sustainable, but a low level of effort most of the time does make a difference and leads to more energy and ability to tackle the hard hour-a-day workout.

Here's a little more on NEAT if you're stuck for ideas:

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