Personal Training Tips: Staying active all day

In this article our Personal Trainers identify what staying active means, and offer some advice as to how best to achieve it.

School Of Personal Training Posted Aug 24, 2017 Future Fit Training

Most people are aware that there are certain things that you can do to stay fit and healthy. You can follow a healthy diet, try to keep stress to a minimum, sleep eight hours every night, and stay active. This last factor is very important, but it is also quite vague. What qualifies as staying active? And how do you manage to do it? 

What Do We Mean By Staying Active?

Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, but in many ways traditional exercise is overrated. When we look at calories burned per day, 10% of the total comes from something called “the thermic effect of feeding” (basically your body temperature rises while you eat/digest food), then between 15 and 30% comes from Physical Activity. Your Resting Metabolic Rate is responsible for the majority of calories burned per day (60-75%) [1].

While 15-30% of total calories burned during the day is nothing to be sniffed at, it should show you that diet and long term improvements to the metabolism should be the priority. If you have never exercised before and wanted to increase your calories burned through physical activity, then planning to add in high intensity interval training would be crazy. Partly because it was very difficult, and partly because it would almost certainly not be a long term plan.

Increasing activity does not have to involve very difficult exercises, not does it require sexy exercise programs, or a “Go Hard or Go Home” philosophy”. Being more active could involve very small and simple changes that you make to your day, which you can stay consistent with for years to come.

How to Stay Active all Day

There are two main forms of physical activity; traditional exercise (running, lifting weights, cycling, playing sports, exercise classes etc) and Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is activity that burns calories but is not considered to be exercise. So for example, if you were to carry the shopping home for a mile that would burn quite a few calories but you wouldn’t think of it as exercise.

Other examples of NEAT would be cooking dinner – it may not burn many calories, but all the little tasks (peeling vegetables, pulling pots and pans down from shelves, stirring food) add up. Washing the car can also burn calories, as can doing the gardening, hoovering the house, and even tasks such as reading or writing! It may just be 1-2 calories here, or 30 calories there, but over the course of the day NEAT can burn more calories than intense exercise.

There is a slight problem though, most of NEAT comes from doing unplanned tasks, or performing movements unconsciously. Fidgeting is a great example of a calorie burning activity that you can’t force yourself to do – it is something you do without noticing. Luckily, one form of NEAT is quite easy to increase. Walking.

Studies have consistently shown that walking 10,000 steps per day can help you burn more calories and lose weight. Purchasing a step counting app on your phone or a physical step counter (such as a fitbit) can really help you to consciously increase your steps each day. This is truly the most effective way to stay active each and every day.

Other ways to increase activity include:

  1. Attend an exercise class – having a date and time in your diary can really help you to stay motivated and keep turning up. The calories burned will be nice and high too!
  2. Find a Gardening or DIY Task – Not only will you increase your activity per week, but you’ll also improve your home and garden. A win-win situation.
  3. Perform an Exercise Challenge – Pick an exercise such as push ups, squats, or lunges, and set yourself a target to hit each day and each week. Try to beat your score every week! You can also change the exercises to keep yourself interested.
  4. Join a Sports Club – Instead of watching football, tennis, or basketball on the TV why not try and play yourself. Sports clubs can help keep you active, and most have an excellent social side too!
  5. Find an Active Job – Obviously don’t pick your career based on how many calories you burn per hour, but having an active job can 1) help keep you active, and 2) may suit your lifestyle. Many people cite increased activity as one of the biggest benefits of becoming a personal trainer.


[1] Berardi, J., Andrews, R. 2013. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition 2nd ed. Precision Nutrition, Inc. p101

[2] Patrick L. Schneider, David R. Bassett Jr, Dixie L. Thompson, Nicolaas P. Pronk, and Kenneth M. Bielak (2006) Effects of a 10,000 Steps per Day Goal in Overweight Adults. American Journal of Health Promotion: November/December 2006, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 85-89.