NonExercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT); Wow, that’s a mouthful! It’s an essential health component to understand. It’s even more important to increase. NEAT includes any energy you burn throughout the day besides sleeping and planned exercise. A high NEAT level means you are active throughout the day. This is where you want to be. A low NEAT level means you love couch lounging, have a desk job, spend hours at the computer, or game for hours on end. The negative health effects of the latter are significant.
“Life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
— Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Health Benefits of High NEAT Level
With technology taking over our social and economic lives, society has been forced into laziness. Think about it – We drive everywhere. Kids’ outdoor riding toy options include many motorized options (even bikes, ugh!). Jobs are less labor focused and sedentary. Additionally, convenience foods have taken over what we consume. Most of these foods are calorie-packed. Because we have succumbed to all these labor-saving technologies and high-calorie foods, NEAT has become imperative to improve health.
Increasing NEAT levels gives us hope for healthy living. You easily burn more calories. Additionally, increasing daily activities will:
- Reduce fat in your abdomen
- Lower cholesterol
- Improve triglyceride levels
- Lower blood glucose
- Reduce blood pressure
All these factors impact heart health. Increasing your NEAT levels- or daily movement- lowers the mortality rate!
How To Increase NEAT Level
Although dependent on body weight and the activity, you can burn upwards of 2000 extra calories simply by being mindful and upping your NEAT level. Because NEAT includes any energy you burn besides sleep and planned exercise, it’s easy to increase with a change in daily actions. Anyone can incorporate these types of movements. Simply, Move More!
Simple movements to add to your day:
- Fidget – okay, try not to annoy those around you, but fidgeting increases burned calories
- Chew gum – it’s not much, but you’ll burn about 11 calories per hour
- Stand – standing vs. sitting burns about twice the calories
- Play with the kids
- Sing – if God gave you that gift or sing in the shower or in the car
- Yardwork and gardening
- Set the alarm to move – you need to get up every hour. About 10 minutes will do.
Ways to Walk more:
- Park farther away (don’t fight for the closest parking space)
- Walk the dog(s)
- Walk the kids to the park or to school
- Take stairs when an option
- Pack a lunch to save time, then use that time saved to take a walk.
Fun fact – you burn 10% more calories walking postmeal.
- Have your meeting WHILE walking rather than sitting at a desk; walking improves brainstorming, BTW!
- Get a desk treadmill – yes, that’s a thing!
- Stuck on the phone? Walk and talk. We all have mobile phones. Make it mobile!
- Waiting on someone or something? Pace, walk around instead of standing or sitting. If you can’t walk, then stand. Don’t sit.
- Try mall walking
- Bring the groceries in one or two bags at a time.
- Walk the shopping cart back to the storefront.
- Picking up fast food? Skip the drive-thru line and go inside to order
- Watching TV? Get up and move around during commercials.
- Bathroom break? Walk to the furthest restroom rather than the closest.
Sitting Too Much
Simply put, sitting is destroying health. Sitting has been coined “the new smoking” because of all the negative health effects it causes over prolonged periods of time.
Sitting on your bum most of your day, whether driving, at the computer, or lounging, has detrimental consequences, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and belly fat. A crazy finding is regular physical activity does not counteract sitting all day. While you may think going to the gym after work makes up for your sedentary job, research shows it does not. With that said, keep up with regular exercise, but if you wonder why you aren’t getting the desired results…
How much time spent sitting is too much?
Eight or more hours of sitting will tragically impact your health:
- Puts you at risk for Heart Disease
- Increases Cancer Risk
- Sets you up for developing Diabetes
- You may experience Dementia-like symptoms
- Stiffness becomes a big problem
- Muscle strength diminishes
Okay, throwing a study at you. Levine et al. [Levine J.A., Lanningham-Foster L.M., McCrady S.K., et al. “Interindividual variation in posture allocation: possible role in human obesity.” Science. 2005; 307: 584-586] ===> This study compared obese and lean participants in similar environments. Factors observed included body posture and motion. Participants were to continue doing what they normally do in a day. They were not to add in new activities or exercises. What they found is not shocking – the more obese sat for longer periods compared to the leaner ones. It was predicted that if the obese group incorporated more NEAT activities, they would burn 350 calories and become leaner. I hope that wasn’t too simplified for you, but it really wasn’t anything unpredictable.
Move! Play! Stand! Walk! Dance! Anything to get you off your bum!