What is NEAT and Why Should You Care About it?

NEAT has less to do with being 'neat' and everything to do with staying active every day. Let's talk about the everyday activities that we often overlook.

Cute kids and woman having fun in a park in summer.

Several studies have established the relationship between visceral fat and chronic diseases, with 1 in 5 deaths worldwide attributed to obesity. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is one of the components of total energy expenditure (TEE). Increasing NEAT is one potential intervention against obesity and physical inactivity.

So... What is NEAT?

NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do that does not include sleeping, eating, or exercise; and ranges from simple things like standing to moving about. Unlike moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise, activities that promote NEAT occur at a low energy workload on a daily basis from minutes to hours. It’s basically any movements you do outside of exercising!

With many companies implementing Work-From-Home policies, it's no surprise that our overall NEAT levels may have taken a steep downward turn without those steps into the office or out to grab lunch/coffees. When you are sedentary, you have lower NEAT levels. Being sedentary is directly associated with poorer long-term health and a higher risk of obesity.

NEAT is commonly neglected but it’s super simple! NEAT exercises can account for a huge portion of your total energy expenditure and can be a great way to stay active every day. From walking the dog to having a little boogie at your desk, NEAT refers to a lot of different things.

Convenience Is a Double-Edged Sword

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Social and economic advancement has promoted easy access to foods high in calories and overfeeding. Just think back to your last trip to McDonald’s or Tacobell. While it might’ve provided immediate satisfaction, it has long-term effects on your health. Fast food is typically high in sugar, salt, and saturated or trans fats. A 2015 study identified the irreparable impact of eating fast food, including risks like obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and various cardiovascular conditions.

Furthermore, this advancement made it harder for people to get enough physical activities because of motorized transportation, sedentary jobs, and labor-saving devices. While this advancement has allowed people to be more productive and provided many conveniences, the lack of physical activities can lead to serious health problems like heart diseases.

How to Move More?

Young woman with colorful folders climbing stairs

Don’t worry. You don’t have to get a gym membership right away or join a spin class! By doing simple daily manual task activities, you can enhance NEAT throughout the workday and at home. Try these activities:

  • Stand more.
  • Start by attempting to stand or move about for 5 to 10-minute increments while completing various daily activities.
  • Clean more! Like washing your car or taking care of the chores around your house.
  • Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • Carry your groceries instead of pushing a cart.
  • Take walks often. Walking is an excellent strategy for weight loss!
  • Take the long way to the water cooler or bathroom at the office.
  • Walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling them.
  • Pace while talking on the phone.
Man mobbing the floor.

Find ways to integrate standing and moving activities because every calorie counts throughout your day. By avoiding sitting, promoting movements, and engaging in simple, repetitive, and creative activities, a significant amount of extra calories may be expended to reduce weight and prevent the cardiovascular and metabolic complications associated with obesity. Which means you are one step closer to building a healthy lifestyle.

Like Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

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