There is no argument against the well-documented fact that exercise is essential for an increased quality of life and longevity. Men, women, and children of all ages are encouraged to partake in at least 150 minutes of low to moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise per week. Sounds simple enough for most but what about those individuals that have physical limitations, severe health conditions or very limited time due to career and family obligations? Can these types of people benefit from the one-size-fits-all idea of exercise?
If you meet the conditions above, or if you are looking to discover new and different ways to burn calories, lose weight, and stay healthy, N.E.A.T. may be a convenient and viable option for you.
WHAT IS N.E.A.T.?
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or N.E.A.T., is a culmination of all the activities you do on a day-to-day basis that are NOT exercise. Some examples include standing, walking, dancing, gardening, and shopping. Burning calories is not limited to a treadmill or a weight room, simply being awake and breathing requires energy. Your body gets this energy from the food you eat. When you are ingesting more calories than you are expending, weight gain occurs. Over time, this weight gain could become substantial, resulting in the inability to exercise in a gym setting.
Weight gain and inactivity can lead to serious health complications. Cardiovascular disease is the most common and preventable cause of death in the United States. If you are one of the millions of people that are afflicted with a cardiovascular disease, proper diet and exercise can greatly reduce, if not eliminate, your illness. Exercise does not need to be limited to traditional strength training and “cardio.” Increasing your overall activity can help you to burn more calories, speed up your weight loss and keep you happy and healthy. This is where N.E.A.T. comes in.
“The beauty of NEAT is that the activities quickly add up and take little extra effort,” says Avril Carpenter. “There’s no need to purchase new gym kit or go near a treadmill. Simply by changing your focus to moving your body more, and being less sedentary.”
N.E.A.T. is a philosophy and lifestyle that encourages individuals to increase basic, everyday activities in order to maximize their caloric expenditure and to avoid cardiovascular disease. Let’s review the benefits of N.E.A.T. and review how you can incorporate it into your daily routine.
BENEFITS OF N.E.A.T.
Intense physical exercise can no longer take up the entire spotlight as a number of studies suggest that “accumulating short bouts of low-intensity physical activity throughout the day can also have substantial health benefits.” What’s more, new research has shown that “merely taking more frequent breaks from sedentary activities is also associated with reduced metabolic risk and abdominal fat levels.” (“5 NEAT Tips for People Who Hate Exercise” 2012. Para. 2.) As James Levine points out, the simple act of standing up more often will help to improve your health:
“The role of NEAT in obesity was recently highlighted by the observation that lean sedentary people are standing and ambulatory for 152 minutes longer per day than obese participants. If the obese subjects adopted the same posture allocation as the lean subjects, they might expend an additional 350 kcal per day because of the energy cost of standing/ambulating.” (“Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon of Societal Weight Gain” 2002. Para. 13.)
Here is a list of the most common benefits of N.E.A.T.
1. More calories burned
It’s simple: The more you move around, the more calories, or fuel, your body needs to complete these simple tasks. More calories burned equals more weight loss!
2. Decreased risk of disease
Increased physical activity helps to reduce the risk of weight gain and the development of cardiovascular diseases. Pairing N.E.A.T. with proper nutrition can result in a dramatically increased quality of life.
3. Increased productivity
What could be better than losing weight while you get done all of those chores and errands that you’ve been putting off? N.E.A.T. could be the reason you finally tackle the garage spring cleaning that you’ve been putting off for a few years.
HOW IT FITS IN YOUR LIFE
Here are the top 5 simple ways to begin to following a N.E.A.T. way of life!
1. Sitting with Purpose:
If you work in an office setting or a job that requires a great deal of sitting, it is important that you take breaks and move around. There are little things that you can do while sitting to improve your caloric burn. Fidgeting in your seat or bouncing one leg at time may not seem like much but these little movements help in a big way. If your job allows it, investing in and sitting on a Swiss stability ball will allow you to work your core and encourage proper posture.
2. Find Reasons to Walk
Let me assure you that there are plenty of opportunities to walk. Park your car further away from the store, walk during your lunch break at work, take the stairs, and intentionally make more trips around your home. Look for ways to increase your step count in your daily routine then act upon them.
3. Buy a Pedometer/
Continuing with the idea of increasing your step count, what better way to do so then by tracking how many you are racking up in a day? A pedometer is a small, inexpensive device that attaches to your belt or sits in your pocket. It counts the number of steps that you take and some advanced models will even calculate the caloric burn associated with that number. Challenge yourself to increase your step count each week and reward yourself if you accomplish this goal at the end of the month.
4. Get Competitive
Have a friend who is also looking to lose weight? Have them purchase a pedometer as well and set some rules and boundaries for a friendly competition. Who can walk more steps in a week? In a month? In 6 months? Make the rewards relevant and healthy!
5. Take Up a New Hobby
Make no mistake about it: Exercise is crucial for weight loss and overall health. If it isn’t a viable option at this time, then look to expand your options to achieve the caloric burn you need. Starting a new hobby will keep your mind and body busy while expanding your social circle. Group dance classes, bird spotting on nature trails, and doing walking tours of historical landmarks within 100 miles of your home are all great ways to get out and about.
1.) Carpenter, Avril. “5 NEAT Tips for People Who Hate Exercise” avrilcarpenter.com. 2012. Web.
2.) Levine, James. “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis: The Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon of Societal Weight Gain” http://atvb.ahajournals.org. 2002. Web.