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  • Writer's pictureScott McCarthy

The Power of N.E.A.T.: How Non-Exercise Activity Impacts Weight Management

Most of us lead sedentary lifestyles, whether at work or home. We sit for hours on end, not realizing that this can lead to many health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This is where NEAT comes in. NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is the energy expended for all activity except eating, sleeping, and athletic activity/ exercise. A person with a higher NEAT will burn more calories throughout the day, which will compound over time, assisting in body fat and weight management. In this blog, we will discuss what NEAT is, its benefits, and three ways to increase your NEAT.

What is NEAT?

NEAT is the energy we expend on all activities other than sleeping, eating, and athletic activity/exercise. It includes everything from walking, standing, fidgeting, and household chores to typing and talking. NEAT can account for up to 15% of our total energy expenditure, depending on our activity level. NEAT is different from planned exercise, such as going to the gym or going for a run, which is considered a structured activity.

The concept of NEAT was introduced by Dr. James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in the early 2000s. Dr. Levine and his team conducted a series of studies that showed that individuals with higher NEAT levels had lower body fat levels than those with lower NEAT levels, even when their physical activity level was the same.

4 benefits of higher NEAT include:

  1. Weight Management: NEAT can help with weight management by burning extra calories throughout the day. This can help to reduce body fat levels and maintain a healthy weight.

  2. Improved Cardiovascular Health: NEAT can improve cardiovascular health by increasing the heart rate and improving blood flow. This can help to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

  3. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: NEAT can improve insulin sensitivity by increasing glucose uptake by the muscles. This can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  4. Improved Mental Health: NEAT can improve mental health by reducing stress levels and improving mood. This can help to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.

3 of the Best Ways to Increase Your NEAT

  1. Household Chores Household chores are a great way to increase your NEAT. Activities such as cleaning, cooking, and gardening can help to burn extra calories throughout the day. For example, vacuuming can burn up to 170 calories per hour, while mopping can burn up to 190 calories per hour. Even simple activities such as washing dishes or folding laundry can help to increase your NEAT.

  2. Take Stairs Instead of Elevator/ Park Further Away from Entrances Taking stairs instead of elevators and parking further away from entrances is a great ways to increase your NEAT. These activities require you to use your muscles and burn extra calories. For example, walking up stairs can burn up to 9 calories per minute, while walking on a flat surface burns up to 5 calories per minute. Similarly, walking a few extra steps to get to your car or office can burn additional calories and increase your NEAT.

  3. Do "In-Person" shopping and errands instead of online delivery Every little bit matters in the battle to balance calories in and calories out. The calories burned walking and carrying things while running errands and shopping will increase your N.E.A.T. and go along way to help in those efforts.

In conclusion, N.E.A.T. is a significant factor in weight management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By increasing N.E.A.T. levels through simple daily habits like doing household chores, taking stairs instead of elevators, and doing "in person" shopping and errand running, individuals can burn more calories throughout the day and improve their overall health. It's important to remember that incorporating these habits into daily life doesn't require major changes or additional time commitments but can have a significant impact on health and wellness over time. By adopting these habits and finding other ways to increase N.E.A.T., individuals can take control of their health and achieve their weight management goals.


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