I've had this book on my Amazon wishlist for quite a while, and finally got around to reading it last month. In the subtitle of his book, Dr. James Levine, MD, PhD, director of the NEAT Center at the Mayo Clinic, says you can "Use NEAT Science to: Burn 2,100 calories a week at the office, be smarter in as little as 3 hours, reduce fatigue by 65%, and extend your lifespan by 4 years."

These sound like lofty claims, and although his basic premise is simple, in practice Dr. Levine's concept is rather revolutionary.

Dr. Levine's general thesis is a fairly commonsense one. He posits that the human body is made and meant to move almost continually, and that our modern sedentary lifestyle, filled with conveniences which remove more and more movement from our lives, is killing us. This in itself may sound pretty obvious, but many of us would say, "well, I have a desk job, so there's nothing I can do about it." And here is where the twist comes in. In the second half of Move A Little, Lose A Lot, Dr. Levine shares an 8-week program for incorporating more and more movement into your daily life, no matter what kind of job you have, or how sedentary your lifestyle may have been up to this point.

Since I am not currently looking to lose weight, I didn't follow the 8-week program, but I did read through the entire thing, which is filled with interesting information, and various tips and hints to keep you motivated throughout the program, remind you why you are doing it, and give you the tools you need to succeed.

He claims that, at the end of the 8 weeks, you will not only be thinner and more fit, but also happier, more energetic, and more excited about your life.
Dr. Levine's book is based on "NEAT science." N.E.A.T. is an acronym for "nonexercise activity thermogenesis" - Levine's term for the calories you burn while living your daily life and performing your daily activities. Rather than going to the gym, Dr. Levine says, and hoping a 40-minute workout is going to keep you in shape after being sedentary for most of the other 23 hours of the day, you need to incorporate more NEAT into all of your daily activities.

How do you do this? Levine is a big fan of walking. He recommends treadmill desks if you have to work in an office, walking during your lunch break, holding walking meetings, and walking on a treadmill while watching TV in the evenings if this is your thing. He also provides lots of other little tips and simple ways to be more active throughout your day.

The 8-week program appears fairly sound. He starts you off slowly, incorporating just a few extra minutes of activity into each day and gradually increasing over the 8 weeks, and he also provides healthy eating guidelines, strengthening and stretching exercises, and what he calls "NEAT Beats," which are activities designed to get you more excited and involved in your life and achieving your life goals. I really liked this manner of focusing on several different aspects of healthy living, rather than just exercise. After all, remember everything is connected! Holistic living means finding a balance between all aspects of your life, in order to experience and enjoy every moment you have on this earth. NEAT living could be a great way to help you achieve this.

Overall I quite enjoyed the book. Dr. Levine is a passionate and engaging writer, who has lots of real-world experience in the concept that he teaches. Since I was not working the program, my favorite part of the book was the first half, where he describes NEAT science and NEAT living, and how we can use it to change the health of the world we live in. I really related to so much of what he had to say on many different levels, and I would recommend the book to just about anyone wanting to lose weight and live a healthier and more fulfilling life - as well as fitness professionals who could teach this approach to their clients.

If I have any criticism of the book, it would be that I felt he de-emphasized structured exercise too much. He did mention that it is fine to do it, and that you could count a workout as part of your daily activity, but there are lots of forms of exercise that are very helpful for health and fitness - from interval cardio - which builds your cardiovascular capacity and increases metabolism - to dancing, to yoga, and other weight-bearing exercise which can strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility, as well as reducing episodes of chronic pain - there are many forms of exercise which are important to your overall health besides walking. I understand that he was trying to remove the stigma of "working out," which so many people dread, but finding fun forms of exercise that you enjoy can not only be fun and motivating, but can improve your overall fitness level and increase health and longevity.

I would say, if you want to read this book and try his program, don't stop working out if you already do! Just count your workouts as part of your daily "NEAT Feet" assignments, and add in more activity throughout your day following his suggestions. If you don't have a regular workout routine, maybe try adding in some different activities as part of your NEAT Feet, and see if you can find some fun exercise ideas you can incorporate to mix it up a little and exercise different parts of your body besides just (mostly) your legs which the book seems to emphasize.

Anyway, as I mentioned, it's definitely worth a read, and perhaps can help you find a fitter and healthier way of living a more joyful, fun, and fulfilled life.

Check out Dr. Levine's book, Move A Little, Lose A Lot, on Amazon.com or at a bookstore near you.



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