You could burn an extra 500-1000 calories if not more – extra a day from incorporating a little more NEAT.
Aside from working out with me, are you getting in enough movement everyday? I’m not talking about going for another workout, or participating in a sport. I’m referring to Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Otherwise known as NEAT. In the fitness industry, we’re all about working out, pumping up our muscles and breaking a sweat. But unless you’re an ultra-fit professional athlete, there’s no way you’re going to be exercising all day. That would not only be insane, it would fall under overtraining if you’re not too careful and that hinders progress and results.
NEAT, as the name implies, is not related to exercise or working out. As much as we all want to be in shape and sculpt our bodies, we can’t forget that there’s more to life than just working out for a set number of time. Our bodies were made to move and function in a variety of ways that aren’t related to beating smashing a hardcore workout.
Now you may be wondering what exactly NEAT is….
NEAT comes in the form of the simple things we do everyday without consciously being aware of the fact that we’re moving our body. What does this look like?
- Chores – Washing the dishes, gardening, cleaning the house, clearing the garage etc.
- Play– Chasing after your kids, grandchildren, swimming (for fun- i.e., not going for laps around the pool or finishing a mile), dancing after a few drinks etc
- Traveling by Foot– Walking round the shops, walking to the post box, walking the dog, or just walking alone (like I do daily), taking the stairs instead of the lift etc
You may already be doing NEAT without even knowing it. The problem is– we’re no longer doing enough of it and find as we get older we do less and less or it and wonder why we are gaining weight while sticking to the same diet. Today, we are suffering the consequences of modern convenience. Instead of taking the stairs, we use the lift. People go mad in parking lots if it takes more than a minute to walk to the store. Lol, even I do this, I will drive around for an extra 10 minutes just to get a space closer to the shops.
We’ve become slaves to sitting; all day, we sit in the car on the way to work, where we spend most of the day sitting in front of our desk, and then we drive back home- still sitting- where we’re too tired to exercise and choose to sit in front of the TV until it’s time for bed.
Too much sitting is becoming a huge cause for concern. It can mess with our circulation, cardiovascular health, and metabolism. It ruins our posture, and makes us more susceptible to injury and back pain. And the solution isn’t to temporarily work out for a few minutes and go back to sitting all day. What we have to do is focus on the regular movements we get in everyday through NEAT.
Why else should you care about NEAT? If your goal is to lose weight, NEAT will help to keep your metabolism running strong instead of slowing down to a sluggish pace from too much sitting. If you want to maintain muscle strength, then incorporating NEAT will keep them from going into atrophy from staying sedentary (your legs, hips, glutes and back bear the brunt of the couch potato lifestyle). If you want to prevent yourself from your body ageing quicker than you want it to and developing diseases, you’ll definitely want NEAT to help lower the risk.
Here’s how you can incorporate NEAT everyday, on top of managing your diet and exercise:
- Do Your Chores – Your mum was right! Roll up those sleeves, and tidy up. Why not skip the car wash, save some money, and wash the car yourself? Get the whole family involved and make it a team effort. It will also teach your kids responsibility and basic life skills they’ll be able to take when they grow up.
- Walk, Walk, Walk- Park far away from the shops. Take the stairs. Arrange “walking meetings” with your work associates. Walk around the house during phone calls. Take a 10-minute walk every couple of hours at work. If you can walk to the shops, post office, or even work, use your own two feet for commuting. Go for an evening walk after dinner. Take the dog for a walk around the block. If you have kids, or grandchildren do the same with them for some special bonding.
- Change Your Work Environment- Sit down on a stability ball, or forgo sitting altogether and make a standing workstation.
- Fidget Around- If you’re commuting or chair bound at work, keep adjusting your sitting position. Fidget like a small child trying to get comfortable. Raise your heels, tap your toes, bend and extend your legs.
Try to find an opportunity to incorporate some non-workout related movement every day! Get creative, and see what you can make of every situation.