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Dubai: Physical activity for just an hour a day may not be enough to ward off diseases. We need more than an intense workout and must be moderately active throughout the day, according to Dr Suad Trebinjac, consultant of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

“This concept is called NEAT — Non-exercise Activity Thermogenisis,” he explained. “This basically clocks the calories expended in activities other than sleeping or eating and looks at all the energy we expend doing small activities such as walking to and from office, stair climbing, running errands and any other physical movement we might be indulging in through a variety of activities in a day.

“So for those who have to be in office and work on computers it is advised they be active and move a little throughout the day to trigger healthy metabolic activity,” he added.

Dr Trebinjac explained that it was important for people with desk jobs to get up, stretch, move and spot jog or indulge in a brisk walk every one hour. “This will keep their metabolism on track.”

Urban lifestyles have raised the incidence of cardio vascular diseases (CVDs), obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). So, Dr Trebinjac advises people to keep their ‘NEAT’ high.

“For this it is important to look at a few other things such as nutrition, activity and rest,” he said. “When we talk about nutrition, both quality and quantity of food is important. People must avoid junk food, refined carbohydrates and high fat meal, at the same time, they must be mindful of portion control. It is important that the calories ingested must be proportional to the calories burned for the body to strike the right metabolic balance.”

He advised people to get half an hour of physical activity every day which exceeded the normal pace of energy expending exercise.

“This means that for half an hour every day it is important to get a cardio work out which could be jogging, cycling or swimming. This is in addition to my advice of getting up and moving every one hour while at the desk at work.”

The third most important key to good health according to Dr Trebinjac is sleep.

“People are advised to sleep at least 5-7 hours every day. In the interest of regulating our circadian rhythms which have a direct impact on our metabolism, it is advised that people go to bed latest by 10pm and rise early. A restful and continuous night spent sleeping brings down the cortisol and other stress hormones which are triggering health CVDs and other NCDs in people in the cities.”

How to keep your NEAT high

1. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Anti-gravity exercises the heart muscle and triggers healthy metabolism

2 Get a standing desk. Or at least make it a point to stand and walk around or stretch intermittently while at work

3 Break up your day. Try to understand the real low activity periods and introduce some movement in those hours

4 Do your errands. Get your printouts, walk to your colleague or boss’ desk instead of talking over the phone, move to the filing area when you need to file any papers

5. Do your own chores — this applies to home and office chores. So park your car at a distance from workplace, water your table-plant, make your sandwich in the pantry, walk to the dustbin to discard of something and brew your own coffee.