Katherine Hobson in U.S. News & World Report:
Fidgeting is not enough. That’s the message from the author of the much-buzzed-about recent study that threatened to turn us into a nation of obsessive toe tappers and knuckle crackers, all with the aim of burning calories. “Nonexercise activity thermogenesis,” a fancy term for exercise accumulated as part of your daily routine, actually involves a bit more. Standing up. Putting one foot in front of the other. In other words, walking (the “wiggling” in the press release got people focused on fidgeting their way to skinniness).
James Levine, the Mayo Clinic endocrinologist who conducted the study, is the poster child for NEAT. He hates the gym. “I walk in and immediately walk out,” he says, speaking by phone from his office. There is a slight whirring on the line. It’s his treadmill. Levine so believes in the power of NEAT that he has mounted his computer over his inexpensive treadmill. He ambulates at about 0.7 mph all day. He types. He drinks coffee. He has meetings (there’s another treadmill in the office for guests). He does step off to write letters by hand. At 5 foot 9 and 155 pounds, he says he doesn’t watch what he eats.