"But you can achieve much more than that by infusing your day at the office with a steady level of movement without going anywhere," Levine noted. "By taking a phone call standing up, by having a meeting walking around -- slowly, a shopping pace, at maybe one mile an hour -- and by taking the elevator to the third floor and walking up the other three, you will burn an extra 100 to 150 calories an hour. That's an extra 400 to 500 calories a day. And that's a big number."
"If, in addition, you philosophically change the way you look at food, using food as a fuel rather than as a comfort, all of a sudden you have a weight-loss program that is available and amenable to everybody," he added.
One expert applauded Levine's approach, but wondered how accessible it might be for most workers.
"Yes, non-intentional exercise such as just standing instead of sitting burns more calories than if you were sitting by your computer all day. Little changes like that add up, burn calories, and make a difference," said Lona Sandon, a registered dietician and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
"But for an individual to make this kind of office place activity change they need a work environment that strongly promotes the habit," she added. "An individual employee cannot make it happen all by himself. So unless an organization decides it's worth putting the effort towards a remodeling it's probably not going to happen."
But another expert said he's experienced the benefits of the "healthy office" firsthand.
"I've probably employed this approach for about twenty years, myself," said Cedric X. Bryant, chief science officer at the non-profit San Diego-based American Council on Exercise. "People used to think I was nuts, but I do all of my editing of books and article and manuals while exercising on a step-mill -- a revolving staircase type of stair climber -- that I have set up, so my material is on a reading stand while I move at a very low intensity."
"I can certainly tell when I'm working on a particularly heavy project," Bryant chuckled, "because I lose all that much more weight."
"And it also helps me have greater focus and mental clarity," he added, "which makes my editing process so much easier and productive. I would say that I am probably a good 30-40 percent more productive while exercising than while sitting at my desk."
"We need to get people to not think that the only way to get fit is through a structured experience at a prescribed intensity at the gym," Bryant said. "We need to think of an active lifestyle being throughout the entire day, and not just during workout sessions. And if you simply move more while you work you will get the benefit you want."
There's more on NEAT at the Mayo Clinic.
Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.