NEAT is definitely something that we need to consider.
We often just think about the EAT (exercise activity thermogenesis ), the actual workouts we do but actually the non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is super important - basically this is our every day movement. This is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and even fidgeting.
NEAT is commonly neglected. When someone thinks of exercising to get fit or lose weight the immediate mindset is normally to join a gym.
Our lifestyles are ever increasingly becoming more and more sedentary, so it will not come of surprise to you that people commonly burn fewer calories on average than we used to. We have more desk jobs, more public transport options, more technology such as televisions, games consoles and the internet and even have food delivery apps which allow us to order food from the comfort of our own home rather than leaving the house to buy food and cook it ourselves.
When on a calorie deficit, the reason that our progress may slow when we reduce calories MAY due to a low NEAT - a lack of movement.
When we are eating fewer calories, we tend to move less as we have less energy - as we have a lower energy intake. When dieting, we tend to move as little as possible, other than when we’re exercising. As a result, our fat loss slows down. If you want to keep up your progress, keep up your NEAT.
So, it may be that if you are at a lull, you need to increase your daily movement, your NEAT.
How can we increase our NEAT?
Just small changes can create big results.
Sitting is the new smoking. Even if you exercise each day, studies show that sitting for long periods will increase your risks of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and early death. Many of us make our living sitting at a desk or in front of a computer. At school, you sit to listen to lectures or work in study groups. At home, you watch a video, read, or play games while seated for long periods. How can you break up long periods of sitting and reduce the time you spend sitting all day? Learn how to work activity into your workday or your at-home time?
Research suggests that a low NEAT activity may promote certain health problems. You need to move around for two to five minutes at least every hour to boost your NEAT activity.
Make yourself step away from the desk and take active breaks during the workday.
- Don't make it convenient: That coffee machine on your desk makes it too easy to spend the day sitting. Get up to grab a coffee, water or soft drink. Make a habit of taking a stroll to a break room, water cooler, coffee stand or cafeteria.
- Use a smaller cup: You'll need to go for a refill more often with a smaller water bottle or coffee cup. That will force you to get up.
- Eat lunch and take breaks with a co-worker: Team up and you will have the social pressure to force both of you to get up and get away from the desk.
- Drink more water: Staying hydrated is good for your body, and many people don't drink enough water. Not only will you have to get up more often to refill your glass or water bottle, you will likely have to take more restroom breaks.
- Move while you microwave: If you heat your meal or snack, spend that time moving around. You can go for a brisk stroll down the hall and back, meander around the room, or even spend that minute or two dancing.
- Active food prep: Instead of bringing a ready-to-eat sandwich or snack, make yourself take a minute or two to assemble it while you are standing at a counter or table.
Dress for Activity
- Shoes: If you find yourself making an excuse that your heels or dress shoes make walking or standing painful, it's time to switch to comfy shoes or if you are in the workplace then take along a pair of trainers to slip into.
- Clothes: If you're afraid to move because your skirt or trousers are too tight, loosen up the clothing so you can move freely.
Add Activity to Your Routine
- Don't text or call those who are just a short walk away. Get up and pay a visit instead.
- Stand up every time you read or write a text or make calls.
- Stand up every time you press send for an outgoing email.
- Take walking breaks in the day.
- Make stretch breaks when you are sitting for long periods of time,
- Suggest meeting friends at a spot so you both have to get up and walk there.
- Park further away.
- If you have a smart watch - make the most of the movement reminders and act upon them.
- Use an exercise ball as a chair or maybe stand at a tall table for part of your day.
- Walk or bike to meet people / to go to work / take children to school
Setting Daily NEAT Targets / Daily Movement Goals
Low active is 5,000 to 7,499 steps per day. Somewhat active is 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. Active is more than 10,000 steps per day. Highly active is more than 12,500.
Completing an extra 10,000 steps each day typically burns about 2000 to 3500 extra calories each week. One pound of body fat equals 3500 calories, so depending on your weight and workout intensity, you could lose about one pound per week simply by completing an extra 10,000 steps each day.
If you have a Fitbit, it starts everyone off with a 10,000-step goal as it adds up to about five miles each day for most people, which includes about 30 minutes of daily exercise—satisfying the NHS' recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. BUT 10,000 steps per day might not make sense for you. You may need more if you want to lose a certain amount of weight, or take fewer steps if you’re new to fitness or recovering from an injury. Your step goal can vary depending on your needs, and it can also shift over time. Here’s how to set it right for you.
For those new to exercise or returning from injury, increase your daily steps slowly:
Wear a smart watch tracker and determine how many steps you take on average each day over the course of a week. That’s your baseline.
Then add 1000 daily steps each week, so if your baseline is 4000 steps per day, set your goal at 5000 steps each day. Meeting your goal may be as simple as an extra five-minute walk, or even parking a few cars further away at the supermarket, depending on your speed and stride. You could add on on to this week on week - but take it steady.
Remember that we want to create sustainable lifestyle habits - not to create burnout or cause injury!
Good luck! Download some tunes, a podcast, catch up with friends on a call and get moving!