A NEAT Way to Get Fit: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

Take the stairs to burn extra calories throughout the day

Here's a very cool concept for people who hate exercise but want to be more fit: think NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis).  The idea here is to keep your body moving regularly by doing  your usual tasks but with more physical activity. The goal is to take sedentary people and get them to consciously think about moving more by adding little bits of movement into their everyday lives.  Here are some examples:
  • Make your bed every day
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator
  • Park far from your destination and walk
  • Run local errands by foot instead of taking the car
  • Sweep instead of vacuum where appropriate
  • Deliver an item to a co-worker instead of sending it via internal mail
  • Walk to a restaurant a little further away for lunch
  • Play with your kid in the park instead of just sitting on the bench
  • Chop your own veggies instead of buying pre-cut ones
  • In general, sit less
You get the idea.  Basically, if you're not sleeping, seated, or doing a focused workout, then you're doing NEAT. According to researcher James Levine, MD, PhD, "People who can switch on their NEAT are able to remain thin, despite periods of overfeeding.”  Levine found that overweight people tend to sit for nine hours a day and naturally thin people sit for only seven and a half.  Even fidgeting counts as NEAT. So don't just think of your workouts as an opportunity to burn some calories.  Doing a little bit here and there, all the time, is a great way to keep your metabolism high and your waistline svelte.  Every little bit, literally, helps. Do you think you move less or move more than most people?  Have you caught yourself fidgeting a lot?  Do you like to do day-to-day tasks that require a little bit of movement?  Does this give you a new attitude towards housework? Let me know your thoughts.  If you'd like more information than what you find here, sign up for my email newsletter.  I give out tips and tricks that you wont' see here.  It's right at the top of the right hand column. Thanks, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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One Response to A NEAT Way to Get Fit: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

  1. KellyJMF January 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    I pace while waiting for the train and take the stairs. If I can’t see the bus, I just keeping walking to the next stop. Adding more water while at work meant more trips to the ladies room (walking the long way if possible). It has definitely added up over the 1.5 year that I’ve been consciously adding more movement.

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