Ok, you’re probably thinking what the heck is NEAT, Meghan??, just from the title of this post. Well, I am here to tell you! NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. That’s a lot of fancy words that are probably foreign to you so let me break it down for you.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis are calories burned outside of exercise. Any activity or movement you do during the day that is NOT formal exercise is considered NEAT exercise. Cleaning, walking, raking leaves, moving objects, climbing stairs…basically any activity where your body is moving outside of exercise, eating, and sleeping. Most of us do some amount of NEAT every single day without even realizing it. It’s truly just a part of living our lives.
So, why is NEAT important and what is the benefit of it? NEAT exercise is important because we can burn more calories by simply moving more throughout the day doing normal daily lifestyle activities. It may be hard to believe, but the energy expenditure and caloric output from NEAT exercise can be substantial and help you to maintain or even lose weight.
Research has shown time and time again that those who move throughout the day are more likely to maintain their weight or reach their weight loss goals versus those who are sedentary and expend most of their energy in a single exercise session. A greater caloric output occurs throughout the day with various modes of movement than oftentimes you can achieve in a single 30-minute exercise session.
Most people spend a majority of their day at work sitting behind a computer. This mode of working and living has definitely contributed to our more sedentary lifestyles and obesity epidemic in our nation. One effective way we can shift this is by adding more NEAT movement to our days.
I often encourage my more sedentary clients who work 9-5 jobs to set alarms throughout the day to stand, go for a walk, or do some air squats near their desk. Try walking to lunch instead of driving if it is feasible. Park further away at the grocery store. There are SO many creative ways we can add more NEAT movement into our day to day lives to help maximize caloric output. Not only can we benefit by burning more calories throughout the day but this will also make us healthier individuals and a healthier country overall.
NEAT is pretty neat, right?! Give it a try!