A NEAT way to weight loss and health benefits

NEAT is Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. In the modern era especially after the pandemic, almost everyone is leading a sedentary lifestyle or an inactive lifestyle. It’s because of their jobs as it involve sitting or being at rest for too long with little or no exercise. It has become one of the biggest threats to your health. Moreover, moving less and sitting more is linked to a number of health conditions. And it is believed to be a major cause of the obesity epidemic.

Fixing a sedentary lifestyle takes some effort at first, but the value of being more physically active is worth the benefits it brings. One of the best ways to lead a healthy life is to increase your NEAT levels. Now you must be thinking what is this NEAT and how do we increase it?

So, now let’s talk about NEAT!

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) describes the energy expended for everything we do in our daily business. It involves physical activity that is not pre-planned exercise, sports-like exercise, eating, breathing and sleeping. It’s also sometimes called non-exercise physical activity, or NEPA. 

It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, cleaning, performing yard work. Also undertakes agricultural tasks and fidgeting. It also includes even trivial physical activities that can have substantial impact on your metabolic rate and calorie expenditure.

Let’s understand NEAT with the help of a study conducted by Levine and his colleagues:

Inadequate energy expenditure results in the excess energy being stored as fat. Scientists demonstrated the relationship between fat gain and NEAT in obese and lean individuals exposed to similar environments. Twenty healthy volunteers (10 lean and 10 obese) were examined for 10 days by comparing body posture and motion to assess NEAT. Volunteers were instructed to continue with their usual daily activities without adopting new exercise practices.

The results showed that the obese individuals were seated for longer periods compared with their leaner counterparts. It suggests that if obese individuals were to adopt the same NEAT activities as the leaner counterparts, an extra 350 calories per day of energy expenditure would be achieved.

What is the importance of NEAT?

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR), plus the thermic effect of the foods you eat, added to something often referred to as NEAT makes up your energy requirements for each day. 

BMR + thermic effect of food + NEAT/NEPA = daily energy requirement

BMR, or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), is the energy requirement of your body either without any activity or at rest. BMR/RMR accounts for about 60% of your total daily energy requirements. The thermic effect of food (the amount of calories needed to digest food) accounts for about 10-15% of your energy requirements. The rest of your energy requirements are dependent on how active you are in both intentional exercise and NEAT/NEPA activities.

NEAT can account for as little as 15% of energy expenditure in the very sedentary and up to 50% in very active individuals. If a woman has a BMR of around 1,000 calories, then she’ll burn about 150 calories digesting the food she eats each day. She may also burn anywhere from 150 to 500 calories more per day. But it depends on whether she has a day full of walking around, shopping, and cleaning or if she spends the day sitting and working on the computer.

So, on the low end of things, she is going to burn 1,300 calories. If her NEAT activities are on the higher end, she’s going to burn 1,650. That’s a 350-calorie per day difference between those activity levels. 


What are the benefits of increasing your NEAT Levels?

  • The primary benefit of increasing your NEAT levels is to combat the ill effects of your sedentary lifestyle.
  • More your NEAT activity, means less risk of health disorders such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular events, etc.
  • NEAT can make it easier for you to achieve weight loss and stay within a calorie deficit.
  • By performing low intensity activity such as walking and standing can improve your blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. And, it may be better than a single bout of exercise while sitting the rest of the day.

How can NEAT help you reach your health and weight-loss goals?

1. Standing can make a difference:

A growing body that sits still for too long can be hazardous to your health. But simply standing is one form of NEAT that can help increase your daily caloric expenditure.

Feet, Legs, Standing, Waiting, Crossed Legs, Shoes

2. Daily steps add up:

The U.S. Department of Health has been promoting 10,000 steps a day as an achievable goal for daily physical activity. Even if you don’t make it to 10,000 steps, adding extra steps to your day is an important component of NEAT. It can burn calories, while adding health-promoting activity to your life.

Couple, Elderly, Walking, Fall, Trail, Elderly Couple

3. Walk or cycle for transportation:

Choosing to walk or ride a bicycle for your daily commute can burn significant amounts of energy. Instead of choosing a car or motorbikes for travelling to short distances, choose to cycle your way to that place or rather walk. If you need to run errands for your kitchen or something else, walking to your destination is a great way to increase your NEAT.

Person, Woman, Together, Two Women, Two, Friends

4. Do your own cleaning:

There is cleaning and then there is getting your house ready for Diwali celebration or having your guests over for dinner cleaning—we all know the difference. Doing these kinds of additional tasks around the house can be a great opportunity to increase daily NEAT.

Woman, Window, Cleaning, Person, Female, Housework

5. Play with your kids:

In this modern era, everybody is busy in their daily life. No one has time to play with their kids or to take them to parks. If you can spare even a few minutes for playing with your kids or walking down to your neighborhood park, you will be spending precious time with your offspring while racking up NEAT. 

Children, Kids, Childhood, Games, Play, Fun, Playful

6. Fidget while you’re sitting:

If your work falls under the sedentary category then the best option to burn calories is fidgeting such as stretching your legs and arms. According to a research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, you can burn up to 120 calories an hour by simply sitting, toe-tapping, stretching their legs and arms. Or flipping through papers as compared to sitting motionlessly.

7. Take stairs instead of elevator:

Take stairs if you only have 2-3 flights to go. It will increase your NEAT levels as it is twice the work of standing still.

Stairs, Step, Climb, Staircase

8. Dance your way in life:

Take some time to celebrate yourself and put your dance shoes on!

Now, put your favorite playlist on and dance around the house. Or dance when you’re cooking, cleaning or just to cheer yourself up.

Freedom, Girl, Travel, Adventure, Summer, Dance, Dancer

9. Cook your own food:

Sometimes, cooking works in a therapeutic way. It relieves all your stress. It is a great way to move more and increase your NEAT levels and your digestion will also benefit from this.

Woman, Man, Kitchen, Food Preparation, Couple

10. Stretching whenever you get time:

Incorporating some stretching into your daily routine will help keep you strong and flexible. And it is also a great opportunity to move your body. 

Sport, Stretch, Fitness, Girl, Black, Outdoor, Runner

How many calories do you burn from NEAT?

Well, it depends from person to person how many calories NEAT burns. A 2014 study reported that the number of calories burned from NEAT vary by up to 2000 kilocalories a day between two individuals of similar size. There are a number of factors that can account for this difference, including environment and genetics. Your job and lifestyle can also influence NEAT. Two people with similar body mass indexes (BMIs), but different jobs, sedentary versus active, will likely burn different calorie amounts.

There are few examples of calorie burns with doing normal household chores:

Using vacuum cleaner for cleaning: Pushing your vacuum cleaner in the house requires some serious calories. Vacuuming for 30 minutes zaps 99 calories if you’re 120 pounds (54.4 kg), 124 calories if you’re 150 pounds (68 kg), and 166 calories if you’re 200 pounds (90.7 kg). 

Play with your children: A fun family workout is good for your body and spirit. Even if you only do a little work, 30 minutes of playtime burns 120 calories if you weigh 125 pounds (56.6 kg) and 178 calories if you weigh 200 pounds (90.7 kg). Ramp up to serious horseplay, and you’ll zap 30 or more extra calories per outing.

(Source- https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/slideshow-calories-burned-by-household-chores )

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