Small lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on our health and fitness. This week we’re going to focus on a small change that we can all make: increasing our NEAT. NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, refers to calories burned doing daily activities not related to working out. Increasing NEAT is a small change that can play an integral role in weight loss or maintenance.
To manage our weight, we must always consider our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). TDEE is simply the number of calories burned in a day, and consists of three components:
- resting metabolic rate (about 60% of TDEE),
- the thermic effect of feeding (about 10% of TDEE)
- the thermic effect of physical activity (about 30% of TDEE)
Our resting metabolic rate and the thermic effect of feeding are largely out of our control because they depend on body size and are difficult to change. But for two adults of similar size, TDEE can vary by as much as 2000 kcal each day! There’s only one place that variation can come from: the thermic effect of physical activity. Fortunately for us, that’s the easiest component of TDEE to change.
The thermic effect of physical activity includes both structured (like running or going to the gym) and non-structured activity. We know about the connection between structured activity and weight control, but how does non-structured activity enter this equation? Non-structured activity is where NEAT comes into play.
Even if we formally exercise for an hour each day, we still have twenty-three hours when we are not engaging in structured physical activity. Being sedentary during those times can undermine the good work you’re doing at the gym. But increasing our NEAT means that our bodies continue to work long after our workout is over.
Increasing NEAT is not complicated. Walking to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, mowing the lawn with a push mower—these are just a few simple ways to burn extra calories while we go about our daily activities. Click here to see many more examples of how to increase NEAT in your day.
The notion that physical activity improves health is not new. However, seeing the impact of small changes like sitting less and standing more is powerful and motivating. Increasing NEAT is a simple way to manage your weight and positively affect your health.
This week, focus on NEAT. Instead of concentrating only on your workout, look for opportunities to be more active throughout your day. Taking a few extra steps makes a big difference!
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