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NEAT- What is it and Why we need it

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

By: Kristen Summers and Krista Arnold

We all know exercise is a cornerstone to a healthy lifestyle. Not only does exercise improve muscle tone, bone strength, lower your risk for many diseases, and help you lose weight, but it also has been shown to increase your overall happiness, helps manage stress and can even improve your skin.

However; if you’re injured or unable to exercise or just want to up your current routine a little, there are other ways to burn additional calories or add extra steps to your watch beyond an hour-long session in the gym - and there’s even a name for it. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), is the energy expended for everything we do that isn’t eating, sleeping, or sports-like exercise.

Things like yard work, walking to work, even fidgeting, yes, fidgeting increases NEAT. You may be thinking, honestly how big of a difference does NEAT really make, is it significant enough for me to take into consideration? The answer, according to scientists and researchers is a resounding yes!

LPL (Lipoprotein lipase) is an enzyme that plays a critical role in converting fat into energy. Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can reduce that enzyme. Using NEAT throughout the day can help maintain this enzyme and therefore help you burn fat. If you’re a person who spends a majority of their day at a desk, that quit ignoring the stand reminder on your watch and stand up and get a couple of minutes of movement in to keep your body in fat burning mode! For the average person, NEAT makes up 63% of your day, so how you use it, is significant.

Before you go grabbing your kids’ collection of fidget toys, keep reading for some more intentional and effective NEAT activities you can incorporate into your daily routine.

1. Walking. Take an evening walk around your neighborhood or the park, walk for a few minutes every hour, or park at the back of the parking lot when shopping or going to work. Better yet do all of these things and you could easily increase your step count by a few thousand steps each day.

2. Stretch. In the morning to get your blood pumping, while you’re watching tv, or right after you get home from work is a great way to sneak in some extra NEAT.

3. Clean. Clean your house, wash your car, do yard work. Turn up the tunes and get moving and feel accomplished while you’re at it.

4. Exercise Movements. Not your regular cardio, iron pumping, sweat sesh. Think more like a “drop and give me twenty” quick drill. Take a minute and do push-ups, squats, jumping jacks or even just march in place.

5. Dancing. Whether it’s with your partner, your kids, your grandkids or your dog, dancing is a fun, easy way to incorporate NEAT. “Alexa, play 90s dance music.”

Incorporating a few of these things will take only minutes of your time and will help with your weight loss journey and make a difference in your overall health and wellness. How cool NEAT is that?!

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