• Rebecca Watts

The NEAT way..

Is your lack of non exercise activity contracting your exercise efforts... Heres how NEAT can impact your goals

When thinking about getting more active, the usual school of thought is to join a gym or start running. All exercise is great for your health and should always be encouraged but from a fat loss point of view can be limited on its own.

This is where NEAT come in - Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

What is NEAT?

Energy used can be broken down into Exercise Activity and Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Exercise Activity is purposely undertaken in the form of exercise, whether this be a sport, walking, running, swimming, a gym session.

Where as Non Exercise Activity is part of your everyday life, such as moving around everyday to undertake your work, family and life commitments. It is the energy we expend when not sleeping, eating or exercising, which is a large part of our day. It includes sitting, standing up, walking around at work, typing, fidgeting, dancing…..

So lets explain why NEAT is so important

If we go to the gym or run, swim, play a sport, we probably undertake this maybe up to 5 hours per week.

Most are awake for about 112 hours a week. So we are exercising for 5 of those, what are we doing for the other 107??

The key to long term weight management is making those other 107 hours count!

The activity energy we use can vary hugely from person to person through our choices and lifestyle. It is said that NEAT energy expenditure could vary in individuals by as much as 2000 calories a day and many believe has a large role in the obesity problem.

For Example

If you drive to work, sit at a desk all day, then pick up a take away on the drive home and then sit in front of the TV for the rest of the evening, then I’m guessing that you are not expending a great deal of NEAT energy. On the other hand, if you walk to work, work most of the day standing up, walk the dog, cook your dinner and clean the house when you get home and only sit down at 9pm your NEAT energy will be a lot higher.

Levine Study

A leading study (Levine), has shown a clear link between NEAT energy expenditure and obesity. It showed that obese subjects sat for 2.5 hours more a day than lean subjects, and the lean subjects stood and walked for more than 2 hours per day more than obese subjects. Concluding that If the obese subjects were to adopt the same NEAT type day to day activity as the lean subjects, they might expend an additional 350 calories per day.

Stating “Chair-living has proven so enticing that we have forsaken our legs. It is now time to find ways to get us back onto our legs.” The “NEAT Defect” in Human Obesity: The Role of Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis

So what are you waiting for, you could be using at least 350 calories more a day by making a few adjustments.

Increasing NEAT

Don’t blame your slow metabolism for why the person next to you is slim and they can eat what they want, try being more active and increase your NEAT energy expenditure, as that could very well be the reason why they are slimmer

Here a few things you can do, even if you do sit at a desk all day:

- Park at the far end of the car park

- Don’t take the lift – take the stairs

- Stand when talking on the phone or even pace if cordless

- Every couple of hours, get up and stretch a little

- If you are waiting for something have a little pace rather than sit

- Use a Fit Ball as a chair

- Do some chair exercisesIf possible have a standing desk or do parts of your job standing

- Have a stretching / movement routine for the family during ad breaks - make it a game

- Fidget more

- Sit less

- Dance / sing - have fun