Wait…this isn’t a blog about maintaining a well-kept home! What gives??
Stop sweating….I’m not going to discuss housekeeping topics! (Ew…shudder….if you don’t already know me…. I’m the girl who will choose mowing the grass over cleaning the house any day.)
What is NEAT?
NEAT = non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
NEAT simply refers to the common daily activities that help burn calories such as fidgeting, walking, or standing. It’s the energy you burn doing your everyday things but doesn’t include exercise.
To put it simply, NEAT encompasses all the “little” things you do during the day that can add up to a LOT of caloric burn.
Why NEAT is so important...
That’s not even counting your BMR (basal metabolic rate), which is the calories you burn just to exist on this planet: digestion, thinking, breathing, cellular processes, etc. It also doesn’t include your morning workouts! It’s truly EXTRA calories you burn off by not being sedentary.
NEAT can also help prevent metabolic syndrome – which is a constellation of clinical symptoms that come just before a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
But I'm not sedentary....
Okay, maybe you are an active person. However, I guarantee you still leave NEAT calories on the table. Our modern world has made it so easy to avoid NEAT activities. While these things are super convenient, they have contributed to a sedentary society in general.
Here are just a few ways most of us miss out on NEAT benefits:
- Having your kids run and get things for you. “Sweety, can you run upstairs and bring down that laundry basket?”
- Taking the elevator/escalator instead of the stairs.
- Using the TV remote control
- Using the garage door opener
- Winning the standoff for the closer parking spot
- Not using that stand-up desk your boss made available to you (I wish!!)
- Driving when we really could walk
- Watching the kids play while you comfortably observe from the comfort of your lawn chair (GO PLAY!)
So, while I don’t expect you to get up and manually change the channel on your TV (do they even come with buttons on them to do that anymore?) or get out of your car to open the garage door – I used those as examples of wonderful, modern conveniences that have stolen some opportunities for NEAT.
Every moment you aren’t moving is a missed opportunity to help yourself avoid weight gain and metabolic issues such as insulin resistance. (Insulin resistance is a whole ‘nother blog post…stay tuned for that one!)
How to get more NEAT in your life...
If you want to reap the NEAT benefits, look at the list above and see if you are guilty of any of those things. If so, can a few of them be traded for a manual task? Or, a task you do yourself versus asking someone else?
Other options for NEAT can include:
- Parking farther away than you have to (everywhere)
- Using your fitness tracker to reach a step goal
- If it has the capability, set the reminder on your fitness tracker to move every 45 minutes
- Even if something can be carried in one trip, divide it into two or three trips. (Seriously, those marks the plastic grocery bags leave on your arms when you try to carry them all at once take all evening to go away!)
- Don’t pull up and get the mail…park your car and walk back out to the mailbox
- Yes, I know there’s a short route from your office to the break room – but there’s also a long route….take the long route
- Make yourself get up and de-clutter an area of your house during each commercial break
- Manually wash your car
- Skip the drive-thru…park and go in
- Chew gum (if that’s your thing)
- Offer to give your sweety a back rub
One last thing about NEAT
NEAT is one of those things that is easy to forget. But it’s also pretty easy to make a habit. And one of the most important parts of healthy habits is setting an example for the little eyes watching us.
Be sure you engage in behavior that little ones will notice and, eventually, think of as normal.
There are some very rare days when I just don’t feel like walking the length of the parking lot at the store so I’ll park close…even celebrating the first or second spot if I can score one! My kids are generally shocked when I do this. “Mom…why are we parking so CLOSE??” Ha!
And if I ask my teenager to get something for me, in the right situations, I’ve actually trained her to say “are your legs broken?”….as a reminder that I’m perfectly capable of getting off the couch and getting whatever it was MYSELF. (She says it with no disrespect, it’s just a little inside joke. She also knows if I answer “yes”…she better go get it for me!)
NEAT can be an easy, great way to burn some extra calories, lose a few pounds, and help avoid some health issues no one wants to have.