What are NEAT exercises

By Lindsey Johnson

Everyone knows that exercise has a multitude of benefits, like weight maintenance, stress reduction, minimizing risk and complications of chronic diseases, building strong muscles and bones, just to name a few. We plan our gym routines to reap the greatest benefit from our intentional exercise and squeeze it into our busy schedules to help us stay fit and healthy.

What is NEAT?

Did you know your body uses more energy through our daily activities than our workouts? According to an article by Dr. James Levine in the journal Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, “Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports- like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially.”

How Can NEAT Aid in Weight Loss?

According to Dr. Levine, the calories burned during NEAT activities in similar-sized people can vary up to 2,000 calories per day. A study quoted by Harvard Health found that when comparing lean and obese people with similar sedentary jobs, they found that the obese people sat an average of two and a half hours more per day than the lean study participants. The lean people stood or walked more than two hours more than the obese people in the study.

How Can I Add More NEAT Into my Life?

Everyday activities can help increase your energy expenditure without having to spend a lot of time planning or executing. Household chores like vacuuming, laundry, mopping and cleaning out closets can all help burn additional calories. That dreaded yard work? It counts too! Pull some weeds, mow the yard or plant some flowers. Simple habits such as walking around while you’re on the phone, or walking room to room in the house to complete tasks, can contribute to your NEAT.

At work, try connecting with a co-worker in person instead of calling them, use a restroom on a different floor, print to a distant printer, park further from the building and take the stairs. A standing or treadmill desk can be another way to stay more active throughout the day. Any activity you can do to minimize the amount of time you spend sitting in a chair is beneficial for your overall health and can increase the number of calories you are burning throughout the day, without getting hot and sweaty!

The beauty of upping your NEAT is that it is simple — just move around more! Have a dance party in the living room, carry the laundry upstairs, store supplies in the garage so you have to go outside to get them, and perhaps park a little further away. These daily small habits add up over time and can help positively impact your overall health.


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