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What You Need To Know About NEAT

How to Expend More Energy With Little Effort

Are you looking to create lifestyle changes and burn more calories with activities you compete in your daily routine? You need to increase your NEAT. Today, we are walking you through NEAT, and explaining how to incorporate this concept into your daily life. 

What Is NEAT According to the National Library of Medicine, “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 and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT.” NEAT explains most of an individual’s non-resting energy needs. 

NEAT increases when overfeeding, and decreases when underfeeding. It is important to note that this may be an important component in maintaining body weight or losing weight. According to “Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,” the mechanism that regulates NEAT is unknown, but “hypothalamic factors have been identified that specifically and directly increase NEAT in animals.”

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a 145-pound person can expect to burn approximately 102 calories an hour while sitting at work. If that person stood while working, they would burn 174 calories. An extra 72 calories might not seem like a lot, but it can add up to more than 18,000 calories burned per year, leading to an approximate 5-pound weight loss. Without utilizing NEAT, you would have to do 60 30-minute runs at 5 miles per hour to burn the same rate of calories.

What The Experts Say About NEAT Dr. James Levine, the Mayo Clinic researcher who first described and continues to study this phenomenon, states NEAT can vary between two people of similar size by up to 2,000 calories a day. One study that measured NEAT in lean and obese people (all of whom were sedentary and had similar jobs) found that obese people sat an average of two-and-a-half hours more per day than lean people, while lean people stood or walked more than two hours longer each day than obese people.

If you’re not a natural “NEAT-o-type,” you can train yourself to boost your NEAT throughout the day. Pace around while you talk on the phone. When possible, walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of emailing or phoning. Be less efficient while cleaning the house by alternating tasks on different floors, so you have to go up and down the stairs more often. In effect, anything you can do throughout the day that cuts the amount of time you spend in a chair will help.

 For The Office Worker:

  • If feasible, pace around the office building on phone calls.

  • In this virtual world, take conference calls while on a treadmill or take a walk outside.

  • Request the ability to have a standing desk option or simply plan outstanding periods if you can.

  • Choose a restroom that is further away.

  • Yesteryears’ smoke break is today’s walk break.  Walk around the office building, inside or out depending on the size of your building.

Consider chores around the house as part of your new “NEAT” programming.  Instead of looking at it as a tedious chore, think of it as part of your NEAT program.

For Your Time At Home: If you hate exercise, maybe NEAT is a good first step in getting active.  Choose tasks that need to be accomplished anyways and put a little more vigor into it.

  • Stand while folding laundry or paying your bills.

  • Clean windows at a faster pace – instead of dreading that it will take you an hour to do all the windows, break it up, and see how many you can do in 15 minutes. 

  • If you usually use a car wash, wash your car by hand as well as dry it.  It’s a good upper body and core workout if you are deliberate in certain movements.

  • When running errands, park further away. Concerned about not having enough time? The reality is parking further may only be 30-90s out of your way.  You’ll spend that much time looking for a close spot sometimes.

Keeping active in your daily tasks is an important component of staying active. Small changes can help you increase your NEAT, and burn more calories throughout the day.

Thank you to the team at for sharing excellent Health and Wellness tips like this!

Originally shared August 19, 2020

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