Monday, February 01, 2010

Aikido is NEAT

Photo courtesy of Encontrogerminar
In my most popular post ever, I mentioned that I thought aikido is not especially good as exercise - at least not compared to judo. Aikido excels at many other things, but it is relatively non-vigorous for the most part.
Well, this morning I was reading through the USA Today and they mentioned a couple of new studies that have recently been published in the journal, Circulation. Apparently these researchers followed their Australian and Canadian subjects over the course of six to twelve years watching the amount of time that they sit around doing nothing and comparing that to various health outcomes. What they showed was remarkable!
In this study population, positive health outcomes were associated with the amount of time the subjects spent standing up but not exercising. In the exercise physiology jargon, this is called Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), meaning that you are neither sitting nor exercising - you're standing and walking around but doing too little to be considered exercise.
These folks found that replacing 1 hour/day of sitting with NEAT reduced sudden cardiac death by as much as 18%! That's HUGE! By way of comparison...
  • after a heart attack it is standard practice to put the patient on a beta blocker. These are the best medicines around for this population. Statistically they reduce these patients' chances of having another heart attack by 20-25%
  • comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programs have also been shown to reduce the chances of negative outcomes (like second heart attacks) by about 20-25%
  • Now these guys have shown that just GETTING OFF YOUR BUTT for an hour per day - even if you're not exercising - can reduce your chances by as much as 18%!
I'd just like to point out that aikido is NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). Most of your time is spent standing and walking around, but not to any level of exertion that could really be called exercise. Every so often this standing and walking is punctuated by falling down and getting back up, and if the frequency of falling is great enough then aikido can become honest exercise, but for the most part, aikido is just NEAT!
So, if you're looking to replace an hour per day of butt-sitting with an activity that is fabulously interesting and rewarding on a lot of different levels, you might consider aikido.
Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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