By now, we all know the importance of daily exercise. Ideally, we should be doing weight-bearing exercises to build bone mass at least 30 to 45 minutes at least four times a week but for some, it’s just not possible.
This is where NEAT comes in.
N – non
E – exercise
A – activity
T – thermogenesis (burning of calories)
In simple terms, it refers to the calories your body burns through daily activities other than intentional exercise, structured physical activity or deliberate workouts. NEAT encompasses all movement. Here are some examples.
1. WALKING: The average person walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5
to 2 miles. It’s a good idea to find out how many steps a day you walk now, as your own baseline. The CDC recommends 10,000 steps for most active adults.
2. STANDING: Stand while working and other tasks if possible. You could burn anywhere from 120 to 210 more calories just by swapping 3 hours of sitting for standing.
3. HOUSEHOLD CHORES: Cleaning, sweeping, mopping and vacuuming. These activities incorporate bending, stretching, pushing, pulling and squatting for added mobility.
4. OCCUPATIONAL ACTIVITIES: Any physical activity related to your job, such as lifting, carrying or moving objects.
5. FIDGETING: Tapping your foot, shaking your leg or other repetitive movements. Multiple studies have confirmed that fidgeting throughout the entire day can burn
ten times more calories than just sitting still.
6. ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION: Walking or cycling instead of driving for short distances.
7. TAKING THE STAIRS: Opting for stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
8. PLAYING WITH CHILDREN OR PETS: Engaging in active play with kids or pets.
9. SHOPPING: Walking around the mall or grocery store while carrying bags.
10. COOKING: Preparing meals, chopping ingredients and other culinary tasks.
11. PACING: Walking back and forth while talking on the phone or thinking.
12. POSTURE MAINTENANCE: Keeping good posture while sitting or standing,
which engages muscles.
13. LEISURE ACTIVITIES: Engaging in hobbies like gardening, dancing or playing
a musical instrument.
14. LAUGHING: Laughter is a great cardio workout, especially for those who are incapable of doing other physical activity due to injury or illness. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to
Another benefit of NEAT worth mentioning is beyond physical health benefits, it also supports your mental and emotional well-being. Engaging in enjoyable activities and incorporating movement into your day helps reduce stress and uplifts your mood while increasing productivity. You’ll find that NEAT not only benefits your body but also enhances your overall quality of life.
Since NEAT refers to the burning of calories, it is a great tool for getting and keeping your weight at a healthy level but it's not necessarily for building bone or muscle.
NEAT is not a replacement for weight-bearing exercise.
Weight-bearing exercise puts stress on bones which causes the bone to strengthen. This can prevent osteoporosis which affects 10 million Americans. Women are particularly prone to osteoporosis as they age so it’s even more important for aging women.
I will talk about weight-bearing exercises in an upcoming post. It’s an important topic that deserves special attention but in the meantime be mindful about your daily movement.
Remember, NEAT activities may vary from person to person depending on your lifestyle, occupation and daily habits. The key idea is to increase overall movement and physical activity throughout the day, even in small ways, to boost energy expenditure and metabolism. Unlike traditional exercise, which provides a temporary boost in metabolism, NEAT offers a more sustained effect. By incorporating NEAT activities into your daily routine, you can elevate your metabolic rate throughout the day. This means your body continues to burn calories even after you’ve finished your activity.
If you would like more ideas on how to incorporate NEAT into your schedule, improve the amount of movement you already do or maybe you need encouragement to stay motivated, then “let’s talk.” I can help you.
Remember, every movement counts!
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