NEAT – The Key to Fighting Stress in an Office

What are the dangers for mental health in an office? Stress, anxiety, exhaustion, depression — many office workers face these issues. One of the reasons is a sedentary lifestyle. The underrated enemy of a desk-bound life, NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), can prevent employees from turning into tin soldiers right in their workplaces. NEAT is the energy spent on everything except sleeping, eating or doing sport. This article is meant to reveal secrets of how this “stranger” helps maintain mental health in places of business.

Sedentary lifestyle is the plague of contemporary society

They say movement is life! Over the last centuries, our lifestyle has changed dramatically. Hard work in the fields, hunting and fishing are no longer the key activities that ensure the survival. Nowadays, people are stuck in their offices all working day round. As for free time activities, they do not differ much from work: surfing the Internet and watching TV Series online head the list of most popular hobbies. One could say, a couple of hours a week in the gym helps feel more energetic, and that’s it. But healthcare experts claim it’s not enough to maintain both your physical and mental health in case you are glued to the computer all day long.

Sedentary lifestyle kills you faster than alcohol or smoking. In 2009, Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk with his colleagues from the biomedical research center in Pennington, the USA, published a scientific paper to prove the direct connection between passive lifestyle, mental illnesses, and mortality rate. The research results revealed that people who sit most of the time often show signs of depression and are more prone to cardiovascular diseases. Another disappointing outlook for physically inactive individuals is shorter longevity appears compared to those not bound to a computer chair.

The consequences of the sedentary lifestyle for mental health are quite dangerous: anxiety, insomnia, stress, and depression — all these conditions can cause serious psychiatric illnesses.

Physical inactivity and mental diseases

Physical inactivity and anxiety are best friends of mental diseases. Researchers from Princeton University observed and analyzed the behavior of mice that had wheels in their cages and were able to exercise and those who had nothing to do but sit still. As a result, “sporty” mice explored new surroundings with more enthusiasm in comparison with “couch potato” mice. The behavior of the first ones is an indication of less anxiety. What is more, when active animals were put in cold water, their reaction was calm, unlike sedentary rodents.

That is why in order to feel lively and energetic you should move more. But what if you don’t have enough time and opportunity? This is when NEAT gets into the act: you feel the boost of energy while engaged in non-exercise activities, such as walking, playing table tennis during work breaks, going up and down the stairs, etc. Even trivial physical activities of that kind significantly increase metabolic rate, uplift your mood, improve the mental and physical state.

NEAT in action

The developers that specialize in the Innovative Healthcare Solutions domain have already recognized the power of NEAT. A Canadian hardware engineering company joined forces with custom software developers from Belarus and created an outstanding project. The united team managed to apply NEAT in practice by designing a special workplace meant to bring style and movement into office routine.

The invention is a high-grade workstation that won’t let you sit continuously. Moving computer screens and work surface will make you change your posture from time to time. If a desktop goes up, you will have to stand up and continue working in this position. Your head will be following a screen that shifts from right to left. Separate elements move slowly and don’t cause any inconvenience. Their motion is controlled by the software that enables user personalization. Custom settings determine the parts movement.

Since magic workstations are pioneered in a handful of offices, people leading a sedentary lifestyle will have to take care of themselves by making their habits healthier. Running up the stairs instead of using an elevator, walking to the supermarket instead of driving there, going out instead of watching TV – these simple changes will do a lot for your well-being.