A NEAT Way to Reduce Your Chances of Joint Pain

If you’ve had joint pain – knee, hip, back for example, you know how much it can interfere with life. Not only can joint pain erase things like running and other sports, but sometimes just everyday activity becomes your own Mount Everest.

I know – I’ve been there. And there’s something I did that helped me immensely that I thought might also help you.

This isn’t a new treatment technique or gadget. It’s not about just having a positive mindset although that’s important for sure.

The thing that will help your joint pain and reduce your chances of getting it in the future is to not gain the ~1lb of fat that almost everyone gains after the age of 25.

But, I was one of the people in the group that gained the weight.

By the time I turned 54, I was clocking in at close to 230 lbs with a 40 inch waist. My body fat was at least 30%. I had all sorts of aches and pains, felt weak, and was generally miserable.

I found myself wondering what would my life be like in 5 or 10 years. How would it be any better than now? The answer of course is that it wouldn’t. It would only get worse.

So, I took my own advice – the advice I had given thousands of clients.

I revamped my lifestyle, got serious about physical conditioning, and lost the weight (fat). That was four years ago and while I’ve gained some weight, I’ve not gained much extra body fat. My former 40 inch waist still fits into 34-35 inch jeans.

How Hard Can It Be?

While smart physical conditioning is an important ingredient in reducing joint pain, if you’re carrying extra body fat, losing it is the first thing to do.

Lose 1lb of fat and you’ll gain nearly 3lbs of joint strength which translates into an enhanced ability to withstand force.

It sounds simple enough. Lose just 12 lbs over 10 years and cut your risk of developing osteoarthritis of your knee by 50%.

That’s just 1.2 lbs per year. How hard can that be? Well, apparently pretty hard.

Why is this? What are we doing or not doing that causes weight gain?

In a nutshell, we don’t move enough and we don’t eat foods that make it easier for us to control body fat.

But before you put yourself on a diet, try this: N.E.A.T or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, move more often in natural, non-exercise ways. Perhaps the easiest way to implement NEAT into your day is to set a timer for 60 minutes and place it across the room. When it goes off,  get up and go turn it off. While you’re up, take a 5-8 minute walk. When you return, set the timer again for an hour.

What happens is that these small bursts of activity add up over the course of a day and boosts your metabolism.

Of course, weight loss isn’t just about calorie counting but it plays a role. As you increase your energy expenditure via N.E.A.T. , your body needs energy and it will dip into your fat stores to get it.

Losing nearly 35 lbs of body fat was one of the best things I’ve done for my joints. Sure, I still have joint problems from time to time or make a mistake and overload myself but not carrying the extra weight has made a lot of things much easier and much more enjoyable.

If you’re carrying some extra-body fat, why not give N.E.A.T. a chance?


Doug Kelsey, PT, PhD  writes about “active aging” –  how to overcome aches & pains, get strong, flexible, agile and stay as healthy and fit as possible over your lifetime. If you enjoyed this article, join his free newsletter.

You might also like: