NEAT is simple but can be difficult to understand. The US Department of Health encourages a minimum of 10,000 (yes… ten THOUSAND) steps a day as an achievable goal for daily steps. The average American walks between 3,000 to 4,000 steps (or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles) a day. The human body actually reacts to that overly low amount of steps as being sedentary.
The problem with that, is…. remaining sedentary for extended periods of time can significantly reduce levels of LPL. ( LPL …or… “Lipoprotein lipase”, is an enzyme that plays a critical role in converting fat.
into energy). So… the recommended 10,000 steps a day can actually help sustain LPL levels and help the body maintain its ability to burn fat.
In fact, evidence strongly suggests that 9 to 10 thousand steps a day is, not only more effective and yields better results than 2 to 3 thirty minute cardio sessions a week…. But it’s also less stressful on the joints.
Now, I know what’s going through your brain right now…. “How am I suppose to find time to fit 6 or 7 THOUSAND more steps into my day!?” (I feel this…. for sure) … I struggled to grasp a hold of that same thing, so imagine my enthusiasm and eagerness when I figured out that the recommended 10,000 steps is kind of an “easy” way to calculate a daily energy expenditure (or more commonly referred to as “daily calories out”).
But there are other ways you can rack up your total energy expenditures that is pretty NEAT.
What is Non-Excercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT?
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is… what is seen as the energy expended (or… “used up”) for everything we do that is NOT… sleeping, eating, or sports-like activities.
This list can include activities such as… walking to (or) at work, typing, yard work, playing with your kids, dog, or (…yes) even your significant other. Even fidgeting counts as NEAT.
In fact…. standing can burn up to 50 calories an hour. And I know that doesn’t sound like much, but if you stand up and stretch a bit…. for a collected 2 hours a day (try standing while channel surfing, during commercial breaks, while looking at your social media pages, or you can even try standing while eating an simple meal) …. after a five day work week, you are looking at a total of 750 EXTRA calories burnt. Over the course of a year, that’s 30,000 extra calories (or) around 8lbs of fat.
And that’s just calculating the extra standing time. (or trying to anyhow)
Exploring To Maximize Your NEAT
Exploring ways to rack up our daily energy expenditure can be fun. As mentioned before, it could be as easy as standing for a few minutes periodically throughout the day. Don’t have time to stand and stretch? Straighten up your posture while sitting at your desk. For an added bonus, tighten up your abdominal muscles while you hold proper posture. (Make like Rocky Balboa is giving you love taps to the stomach).
Singing to your radio and doing a “car ride dance” while sitting in traffic is a great way to utilize the uncontrolled down time. Not to mention the extra expenditure you bank from the laughter you’ll share with others when your fellow traffic jam mates catch you singing and dancing in your car.
….And there is so much truth behind the idea of parking as far away from the store as possible. Imagine all those extra steps you’ll acquire, especially when added to the idea that you will decide to take the stairs instead of the elevator now.
But one of my favorite ways to fit in my NEAT is that… every time I go to the grocery store (I food shop multiple times a week… only purchasing no more than what fits in a hand basket), I will walk the entire perimeter of the store and also choose 3 or 4 lanes to scour down, remembering to do a few calf extensions (stand on my tippy toes) for every time I stop walking to look at something.
Now that we touched base on the “Whats”, the “Whens”, and some “Hows”…. Let’s find out about the “Whos”.
Who should be the people that would want to utilize NEAT?
….In the most essential respects, anyone who is not a professional (mainstream) sports performer, world class athlete, or a demonstrative fitness coach.
“Well, I am on my feet all day at work, so I know your not talking about me!”
….Actually, you fall directly into the type of people who need to take advantage of daily NEAT. Because, chances are… If you are telling others (convincing yourself) that you don’t need to increase your daily expenditure, chances are… you don’t medically fall into the standard BMI percentile that would classify you as “healthy“.
“I spend X amount of hours lifting in a gym every day! I can afford to lay around during my time when I’m not at work or the gym!”
Well… when you compare someone who spends 1.5 hours a day in the gym for 3 days a week against someone who only maximizes their daily energy expenditure through NEAT and increasing their daily steps… that the individual who increases their NEAT has shown to not only burn more calories and fat, but also increased overall full body muscle activation, in turn… creating more fat-burning, lean muscle.
The Final Thought
The most common question about tallying up your NEAT is how to track it. And the best answer I could summon up was…. invest in a wearable fitness tracker. And be sure you do NOT wear it during your actual exercise times.
Remember… you want to track your NEAT, not your workouts. You can get some additional research on the topic here.