Increase your NEAT
Updated: Aug 6
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and is the energy used for everything we do except from sleeping, eating or sport like exercise. Let’s break it down.
Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is made up of three parts; Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), Diet Induced Thermogenesis (DIT) and Physical Activity-Related Energy Expenditure (PEE).
RMR is the energy expended at complete rest. You’re still using energy in order for your
body to perform basic functions to sustain life, i.e. breathing.
DIT is the energy expended in relation to digestion, absorption and storage of food.
PEE can be split into two; Exercise-related Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) and NEAT. EAT can be defined as physical activity that is planned, structured and has the objective of improving health, i.e. going to the gym.
NEAT is the rest of our movement throughout the day such as fidgeting, standing up, walking, going up the stairs, cleaning, cooking and other activities that are part of daily life. These low intensity activities are a core component of your TEE and can have a profound impact on your health.
Now, you know what NEAT is, why is it important? We’re living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, spending more time sitting than ever before. Research shows that spending pro-longed periods sedentary can be associated with the increased risk of chronic conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity and Heart Disease and even linked to a decreased life expectancy. It’s also important to note that you can be both physically active and sedentary for long periods. For example, you might go to the gym for an hour in the morning but then spend the rest of the day you’re sat at a desk. In these cases, the individual can still greatly benefit from increasing their NEAT.
Here are 10 ways to increase your NEAT:
1. Break up your day – Go for a short walk. This could be 10minutes outside or even just a lap of your building.
2. Take the stairs – Use the bathroom on the floor above or below you.
3. Desk Stretches – Learn a few stretches and do them whenever you start to feel a little stiff. Here are some to try by Yoga With Adriene.
4. Stand Up More - Get a standing desk, or set yourself reminders to stand up periodically throughout the day.
5. Pace or Stand – When you’re on the phone, when you’re waiting for a bus/taxi or when you’re waiting to collect your coffee, etc.
6. Meetings and coffee breaks – Take them outside and walk whilst you do so.
7. Active travel – Walk or cycle where possible, stand at the bus stop and on the bus, get off one stop early and walk or chose a parking space further away.
8. Do your chores – Cooking, cleaning and gardening are all great ways to use energy.
9. Do your shopping – Go instore instead of online and browse the aisles.
10. Childcare – Play with your children, take them to the park and take them on walks to explore new places.
Start small, aiming to move a little bit more than the day before. For example, if you usually do 2000 steps a day, try increase that to 3000, then 4000 and so on. Implementing small changes at a time means you’re more likely to stick to it and create a habit.
Any questions on what NEAT is or need more convincing? Let me know in the comments below.
Health, Wellth & Wisdom Podcast: Nutrition with Nicole – Ep 38 // N.E.A.T Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. WTH!?
Chung N, Park MY, Kim J, et al. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): a component of total daily energy expenditure. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2018;22(2):23-30. doi:10.20463/jenb.2018.0013
Drenowatz, C., Grieve, G.L. & DeMello, M.M. Change in energy expenditure and physical activity in response to aerobic and resistance exercise programs. SpringerPlus 4, 798 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-015-1594-2
James A Levine, Sara J Schleusner, Michael D Jensen, Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 72, Issue 6, December 2000, Pages 1451–1454, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/72.6.1451
Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;16(4):679-702. doi:10.1053/beem.2002.0227
Villablanca PA, Alegria JR, Mookadam F, Holmes DR Jr, Wright RS, Levine JA. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis in obesity management. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90(4):509-519. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2015.02.001