Everything you Need to Know About NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)

You might not realize it, but you are probably engaging in NEAT every day. So, what is NEAT anyway?  

NEAT is an acronym that stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is defined as any activity that is not a planned sport, exercise, sleeping, or eating – basically our everyday tasks. Any slight movement you make throughout the day that burns calories can count towards your NEAT expenditures. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a 145-pound person can burn approximately 102 calories an hour while sitting at work. If that person stood while working, they would burn 174 calories. These extra calories don’t seem like much, but they can add up quickly and could lead to more than 18,000 calories burned over the year. You would have to do 60 thirty-minute runs at 5 miles per hour to burn the same amount of calories! 

There may be many things you are already doing that count towards your daily NEAT, and you may not even realize it, as many of us overlook NEAT. So let’s take a look at some NEAT activities that you can try to include in your daily life. Even the smallest of changes and movements count. 

Some NEAT activities include:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Shopping and choosing a spot further away for extra steps
  • Going to your local mall to window shop 
  • Taking additional trips to the mailbox and to and from the car when bringing in packages
  • Taking other steps around the house when doing laundry or straightening up 
  • Cooking. More home cooking requires us to be focused more on standing and moving and an excellent way to consume more healthy meals.
  • Cleaning. All forms of cleaning count (vacuuming, dusting, dishes, gardening, and taking care of the outside of your home). 
  • Standing at your desk 
  • Pacing/walking while on a phone call 
  • Standing up more often if you are sitting all day due to your job or your lifestyle
  • Using a bathroom at work on a different floor or one that you have to walk further to
  • Tapping your foot or fingers while waiting in traffic or on a line 
  • Using a basket at the food store instead of a cart 

Some NEAT Tips: 

  • Some of us have more active jobs than others, and with this comes more walking, standing, lifting, and less sitting. This is all part of occupational NEAT. However, for those of us that have more sedentary office jobs, NEAT is even more important to be mindful of. 
  • Even if you are an avid runner or gym-goer, you still should be aware of your NEAT movements. NEAT doesn’t replace the gym. Instead, it enhances your calories burned per day and can help you be more mindful of getting more movement. For example, think about taking the stairs more often or walking to the mailbox to get the mail instead of pulling the car up. Everyone benefits from NEAT activity, and according to research, many of the NEAT activities can add up to more calories burned than at a typical session at the gym. It’s possible to burn 2000 calories a day via NEAT!

Many things you have already been doing have been counted towards NEAT. So now that you know what NEAT is, this term should become one that you start being more mindful of, as it can significantly help in weight management and overall health…. and I would say, that’s NEAT!

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