Have you ever considered why you do not lose extra kilograms while spending hours at the gym? The fitness coach usually says you must take care of your overall daily routine and monitor everything you eat and how much you sleep. In other words, it is essential to understand how to increase non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
Lack of physical activity, an increase in sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating behaviors, and not getting enough good-quality sleep affect our lives and increase the risk of obesity. Meanwhile, NEAT is a strategy used to improve overall health and burn calories and is an easy way not to overlook the power of small actions we take throughout the day.
This article will explore the power of the NEAT approach to enhance your calorie burn, ramp up your metabolism, and offer a sustainable way to keep your body healthy.
What is NEAT?
The way people work has changed over the last century with a shift towards desk-based jobs, leading to lower energy expenditure. This highlights the need to control energy consumption and keep calories burning consistently. This is when daily NEAT, a strategy to burn calories during everyday activities, comes to the rescue.
In a modern world where obesity has also become a pandemic, with 1 billion people worldwide being overweight, NEAT is a key to unlocking an efficient metabolism. This approach encompasses the energy expenditure associated with all physical activities outside the exercise routine.
Thus, by considering the ways to increase NEAT, one can transform routine tasks into calorie-burning exercises. Bear in mind that it refers to continuous movements without a focus on intensive physical activity. For example, these actions can range from taking breaks while you work, and walking after meals to doing yard work.
In fact, NEAT activities depend on lifestyle, as the daily routine of an office worker or a busy parent having numerous household tasks varies. However, energy expenditure and changing posture are crucial for overall health, while small steps that seem to be insignificant may have a significant impact.
The Impact of Neat on Health
The data shows around 31% of the global population engages in insufficient physical activity, which leads to harmful effects on health. The impact of sedentary behavior poses a high risk and may lead to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Meanwhile, physical activity reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, improves sleep, has a positive impact on bone and musculoskeletal health, and helps prevent unhealthy weight gain.
NEAT refers to any form of movement and offers a sustainable way to burn calories without structured workouts. The secret is that a person can contribute to the calorie deficit essential for weight loss and overall well-being by changing daily habits, such as standing while speaking on the phone at the office.
Research by Mayo Clinic shows NEAT is one of the contributing factors to preventing obesity. The overweight burn fewer calories during the day, while even small NEAT exercises can have a powerful effect on weight loss. This is not only assistance in weight management but the promotion of a more active lifestyle.
Moreover, another study suggests there are NEAT exercise benefits for people with type 2 diabetes. The research by Japanese scientists revealed the positive impact of NEAT on blood sugar control. It is not associated with fat loss only but with the stabilization of blood sugar levels.
Influence on Cardiovascular Health
Incorporating more movement into daily activities is not only about mood and better cognitive function. It has a profound influence on cardiovascular health as it helps regulate blood pressure and affects longevity in older adults.
A study by Swedish scientists showed that a higher level of NEAT reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Moreover, it is a primary tool in managing obesity in CVD patients.
Anyway, it is important not to think about maximizing every movement all day long. Finding a balance between increasing the NEAT and maintaining a healthy attitude towards physical activity is a must.
How Many Calories Can You Burn?
People going to the gym are usually obsessed with the number of calories they burn. However, when counting, it turns out an hour of gym session is only 4% of your day in case you sleep 8 hours. Thus, you have to take care of spending calories during the rest of your day, too.
Before wondering about how to increase NEAT, let’s see how many calories a person can burn during the day. Of course, the amount varies based on many factors, such as weight, age, and activity level.
There are other factors that are components of energy balance and determine the total burn of calories throughout the day:
- Basal metabolic rate: This is the number of calories your body burns to accomplish essential life-sustaining functions.
- Physical activity: The energy expended during the workouts.
- Thermal effect of food: The calories you burn when digesting food.
- NEAT: The physical activities outside the structured workouts.
On average, NEAT contributes to around 15% of the total daily energy expenditure. However, there is no exact data on how many calories you can expend per day as the activities vary on a daily basis. However, someone with a more active lifestyle and willingness to include more healthy habits, for example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, would feel the benefits in the long run.
6 Tips on How to Increase Neat
Now that you have a clear understanding of the positive impact on your health, let’s explore ways how to increase NEAT when you spend most of your time at the desk. We will unveil 6 practical tips from simple stretch breaks to household chores that are creative ways to keep moving instead of sitting constantly.
It is important not to consider NEAT as an obligatory task you do not want to perform. It may seem hard at the beginning, but when doing it constantly, it transforms into a healthy habit. Even standing during TV commercials or doing stretches during YouTube ads is an option. So, if you are wondering how to increase NEAT calories, the following recommendations are for you.
1. Stretch Breaks
In the modern world, when spending hours in front of a laptop is a part of our lives, it is important to take breaks while sitting to avoid back pains and other conditions caused by poor posture. One of the NEAT exercise examples is a simple stretch break that relieves tensions built in our muscles.
Often we do not notice what bad posture we have when sitting in front of a screen. Taking a couple of minutes to stretch your arms, legs, and back shows how tense the entire body was. The stretch break is about balancing weight, realigning the spine, and improving posture.
For example, you can have your arms above your head and reach as high as possible to stretch your shoulders. Most importantly, avoid painful movements, stretch for several seconds, and exercise smoothly and slowly. Another option is to stand with your back against the wall and hold the position for 30 seconds.
2. Take Walking Breaks
It is obvious that once you are focused on a task at the office, you do not feel how you sit without movement for hours. Of course, when it comes to NEAT, every step counts, and using an elevator instead of stairs once is a nice try but not very effective. You should transform it into a habit to feel the difference in the long-term perspective.
Moreover, researchers have recently found how a 5-minute walk can offset the harms of prolonged sitting, regulate blood pressure, and control blood sugar levels. However, the positive effect is possible only in the case of repetitive walking sessions, which means a person will need an hourly reminder.
Of course, it may not be realistic to walk every half an hour, but with the use of reminders, like an alarm on your phone or modern AI-powered applications such as Bliink, it is possible to achieve tangible results. The latter offers a set of tools to help computer users to notify about the need to make a break and correct their posture.
3. Walk Groceries Home
If you are thinking about how to increase NEAT metabolism, do not forget about “lifting weights”. First of all, give up driving if you need to go shopping at a distance of 20 or 30-minute walk. Consider it an effective exercise with the groceries serving as your dumbbells.
The rules here do not differ much from the ones you have at the gym:
- distribute the weight evenly
- stop carrying the bag if you feel pain
- do not hurry
These simple steps are a smart NEAT strategy tool, a way to engage muscles, and a great cardio exercise. An extra benefit is the reduction of your carbon footprint.
Sometimes finding time for exercise during a busy work schedule is a challenge. If you are struggling to be more active at the workplace, simply turn your workstation into a gym by doing exercises at your desk. Deskercise strategy is a creative approach to boost the NEAT level without leaving the workplace.
The deskercises include desk squat, shoulder shrug, spinal and neck stretches, ankle roll, leg raise, desk push ups, and similar exercises.
In general, try to add some activity to your workflow by pacing while on long calls, taking a quick walk, or trying to converse in person instead of sending a message to a colleague. In addition to having workspace ergonomics, this approach will improve the quality of life and alleviate discomfort.
5. Household Chores
Change your attitude towards the daily cleanup, vacuuming, sweeping, or gardening, and use the unexpected bonus of this physical activity. You do not need guidelines on how to increase NEAT at home; every routine task is an opportunity for movement and calorie expenditure.
Gardening or vacuuming engages various muscle groups. For example, you can step into a full lunge when you are vacuuming to use the muscles in your lower body. Even scrubbing surfaces or washing windows can bring additional value as your arm muscles are engaged. Moreover, the faster you move, the more intense the exercise is, and the more calories are burned.
6. Active Commuting
The World Health Organization recommends active commuting as a cost-effective and sustainable way to fight overweight and reduce physical inactivity. The figures are impressive: mortality risk is reduced by at least 10% when walking for 30 minutes or cycling for 20 minutes a day. It also minimizes the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10% and leads to a 30% decrease in type 2 diabetes risk.
Embracing walking or cycling for short commutes perfectly aligns with the principles of NEAT. Coupled with taking the stairs and walking groceries, active commuting is an option to add movement to your routine without any extra effort. You can start by walking to the nearest shopping mall or a gym instead of driving or getting off at a stop earlier when coming back from home. Thus, active commuting offers a twofold benefit: it keeps you healthy and improves the environment while mitigating climate change.
The Bottom Line
The NEAT approach offers a simple yet effective way to improve overall health and enhance metabolism by incorporating more movement into your daily routine. The NEAT activities do not require much effort or equipment. Whether it is a walking break, vacuuming, or active commuting, this leads to sustainable calorie burn, improving posture, and mitigating the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Most importantly NEAT has a positive impact on your health when the activities are repetitive. If you need a reminder to incorporate these small steps into your life, use the Bliink application to monitor your sitting position and improve posture. With the help of its regular notifications, you will see how sitting correctly becomes a habit. Even these small changes would have a lasting impact on health and well-being.