Besides The Exercise, Can You Make Your Lifestyle 'NEAT'?

Reading time: 3 minutes

Dropping Trainers Image.jpg

‘NEAT’ stands for ‘Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’ which in simple terms is the amount of activity you are doing in your daily life which is not technically classed as ‘Exercise’, instead it’s the things you are doing in between your structured workouts which we don’t typically take account of.

It’s all well and good powering through an early morning training session but the positive benefits of this can be undone by sitting on your backside for the rest of the day. NEAT includes energy expended as we work, stand, walk, talk, tidy the house, or even just fidget. These somewhat trivial-sounding physical activities can actually have a remarkable impact on our metabolic rate and, as a result, stimulate greater energy expenditure over time. The scale of this effect depends on the amount and type of physical activity you engage in and, most importantly, its thermogenic cost – which means how much the activity drives energy expenditure above your resting metabolic rate.

Researchers have estimated that it is possible for us to burn an extra 350 calories per day if we start adopting NEAT habits such as standing and walking. Obviously, some of us have more opportunity than others to increase NEAT, the important thing is to seek out these opportunities where we can. No matter what our circumstances, it is important that we all try to improve our NEAT. Below are a few ways in which we can increase our daily calorie burn. Try to adopt as many of these as possible, as often as you can:

  • Walk around your house / office when you are on the phone

  • Stand up in meetings if possible

  • Walk to the water machine 8 times through the day. Besides increasing your NEAT it will also ensure that you drink 2 litres of water!

  • Rather than call a colleague, walk to their office and speak to them directly

  • Have your lunch (which has been carefully prepared and tracked!) away from your desk

  • Listen to your wearable device / activity tracker. If your wrist buzzes nudging you to stand up, DO IT!

  • Wash your dinner dishes by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher

  • If you catch public transport, get off a stop early and walk the remainder of your journey

  • If you drive to work, park at the far end of the car park

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift

Of course it is not always going to be possible to make all of these changes every day but being aware of the difference these small changes can make should encourage you to build in the extra time if need be.

If you do get the opportunity to increase your NEAT, grasp it with both hands and get into good habits, doing it as much as possible. Now if you were not reading this standing up…go and grab a water!!

Andy Letham