NEAT stands for “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.” If that sounds overwhelming, know you are not alone, and in the simplest terms, NEAT means we are burning calories other than during formal, sports-like exercise. We’re not talking about being tidy regarding NEAT – it’s all about getting more active.
What Sounds NEAT to You?
Perhaps it’s gardening, landscaping, or mowing your yard. Or maybe it is walking your dog and taking a stroll around your neighborhood. It could even be chasing your kids around the house, playing games in the backyard, or even carrying all of your groceries on one trip! But you know what? It ALL counts!
Why Does NEAT Matter?
NEAT plays a big part in creating more energy and strengthening your overall heart health. When you take an extra walk each day, make those extra dance moves while cooking in the kitchen, or opt for those stairs instead of taking the elevator, know you are boosting your mood and energy levels! Plus, you are reducing your stress, lowering your risk of chronic diseases, and improving your overall health. And if fat loss is on your to-do list, NEAT can also prove to be a significant impact in that department.
You don’t need to spend hours at the gym to be healthy; NEAT accounts for far more of our day than an hour-long gym class or sweat session. Although maintaining regular exercise is important, NEAT accounts for a much more significant chunk of our days, so we need to be mindful of all the opportunities to be active. If you combine increased everyday activity with a healthy diet, you will be physically and mentally healthier.
Here’s how to improve your NEAT and Jumpstart New Healthy Ways:
Are you aware of how many hours you spend sitting each day? If you were to create an outline of your daily activities, would most of your day be seated? Think about your commute to work or if you have a desk job. Identify possibilities for being creative and standing or moving instead of sitting. Standing desks are a great way for individuals with desk jobs to increase NEAT and potentially avoid unnecessary health issues. Can you take phone calls while pacing or moving around your office or house? Can you stand or pace at your children’s sports activities instead of sitting? Try to make it happen!
Find Ways to Maximize YOU Doing the Work
Any time you do the work, your body will get more out of it. For example, you can bag your own groceries at the store or even wash your car instead of taking it to a car wash facility. Cleaning the house, as non-glamorous as that can be, definitely counts as NEAT! As often as possible, maximize your output at activities that seem so minor, but add up!
Take the Long Way Home
Whether it’s to the break room, parking your car further away anywhere you go, taking the long way logs you more steps and increases your NEAT. The more you move, the more endorphins you release, which can stabilize your mood too.
Examine Your Social Media Use
Often, people do not realize how caught up they can get while scrolling social media newsfeeds. It just takes one click on a video of a sweet baby elephant at the zoo to lead to a different random video of a guy in Utah tripping over his garbage can. And suddenly, there goes 30 minutes of your life that you can’t get back. Reduce the time you are scrolling on social media and get moving more! Even walk as you scroll (be sure to pay attention to where you are walking!)
Start and End Your Day on the Right Foot
If you begin your day with a walk, it’s a great way to start on a positive note and provide a sense of achievement. As the day goes on, we tend to get more tired, or more “things” tend to pop up, possibly reducing our chances to move more. If you work from home and do not need to be on camera for a particular meeting during the day, walk as you listen to the meeting. Squeeze in a walk after dinner; that can work wonders for our body and mind!
If you aren’t already dancing as you do the laundry or adding an extra shake as you rake the leaves this Fall, know that it will be good for your body, mind, and mood! Building smart habits, such as increasing your NEAT, is a skill that takes practice but can be accomplished.