Here's an unexpected health role model: The Amish. Despite a diet high in meat, pie, sugar, and fat, obesity is practically non-existent in this traditional agricultural community--which shuns technology, including electricity and cars. And not only are the Amish able to lose weight without exercise, but they also boast lower cancer rates than the rest of the US.
So what's their stay-fit secret? The answer is NEAT. And no, this doesn't mean that they stay thin by being tidy. NEAT stands for nonexercise activity thermogenesis, or everyday movement that doesn't include scheduled exercise. Consider the simple act of walking: Amish women take about 14,000 steps per day, and Amish men average 18,000--which works out to 7-9 miles! To put this into perspective, the average American takes about 5,000 steps per day.
But don't worry--you don't have to live like the Amish to lose weight. In his book The Exercise Cure, Jordan D. Metzl, MD, explains how exercise is the best medicine for dozens of health problems (and often better than an actual Rx). "All you have to do is stand up and move to guarantee yourself a healthier and longer life," says Metzl. Here are some smart ideas from his book to help you raise your daily activity level with very little extra effort.