One Small Step: NEPA

One Small Step posts talk about little changes you can make in your daily habits that lead to a healthier lifestyle. NEPA, Non-Exercise Physical Activity, is something you can do each day to help lose weight.

What is the Change?

Are you wanting to shed a few pounds? Perhaps slightly increase your fitness level? Maybe you don't know where to start with fitness and committing to an exercise routine or new diet plan is out of the question. Well, I'd invite you to try to add some NEPA to your life.

So, Non-Exercise Physical Activity ("NEPA") is a way of increasing how active you are in a day by making slight tweaks to how you approach parts of your regular life.

An easy example? Parking. Instead of driving around until you get the spot in the first row, aim to go a little farther out. Considering the average parking space is about 9 feet wide. If you go out 5 spots, you're walking an extra 45 feet to the building and 45 feet back to the car. At 90 feet, you'll be adding anywhere from 40 to 60 steps to your day with that simple change. I usually aim to park out by the furthest cart return at the store. By so doing, I accomplish increased NEPA and actually put my cart away when I'm done shopping.

Another example? Tidying up. Whether you are working from home or back in a workplace. Take a mental break by standing and cleaning up your workspace. Whether it's that lunch plate that's been hanging out for too long, a stray piece of paper, or 30, go ahead and take care of it. Not messy enough? Go for a quick walk around the house or work floor and pick up a few things along the way.

Implementing the Change

So, how do you remember to do these things?

Personally, whenever I drive into a parking lot (primarily grocery stores) I say out loud, "NEPA!" I've done it enough that the habit sticks and I park further away to get more steps. For the tidying up habit, I have an alarm set that reminds me to pick myself up and take a walk.

What are the Results?

For the parking example, I mentioned a simple increase in steps. If you add this up for every place you may visit in a day, you will easily see an increase in your daily step totals. I went from around 12,000 steps a day to near 20,000 when I started including NEPA. This has helped keep my weight in check and has enhanced my quality of life.

The quality of life comes from having additional time to think. As you are probably aware, a recent research study pointed out the link between walking and creativity. Per the review by Healthline (Walking May Boost Your Creativity ( extra walking, when addressing a problem, doubled the number of creative responses to a problem.

The Challenge

I invite you to figure out ways to include NEPA in your life. I'm sure you'll come up with some great ideas. When you do, will you share them with me?

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