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Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day. Most of us have good intentions when it comes to working out but, with family life, work and social schedules, it can make it difficult to stay consistent with the recommended 3 hours of weekly exercise. That's where NEAT can help.
What is N.E.A.T.?
NEAT (Non Exercise Energy Thermogenesis) refers to adapting daily activities to increase energy expenditure. It's a way to speed up your metabolism and burn additional calories without actually exercising.
NEAT was originally discovered by observing individuals who had been overeating but not gaining weight or were of low levels of body fat, creating the link between NEAT and its effect on weight control and fat loss. So this is where we can harness the tendency to fidget, and other non exercise movements.
Does it work?
Yes and No. If you're trying to lose weight, NEAT can help as the extra movement will speed up your metabolism, keeping your body in the fat burning zone. Therefore, NEAT will help you to achieve your goals quicker as, the leaner your physique become, the more visible your muscle definition will be. However, it is not a replacement for actual exercise. You will still need to exercise regularly so that you build muscle mass and reduce your body fat.
This is why we should work on the basis of adding NEAT to compliment your primary workouts, not to replace them.
Use Neat to increase the amount of calories burnt without having to overdo exercise, indeed studies have found that with a structured ‘fidget protocol’ you could stand to loose an additional 20-30 more weight, this is done by burning an additional 800-2400 calories per day!
But the benefits don’t end there, these tiny movements do more than just randomly burn calories, these subtle movements actually trigger epinephrine release which stimulates the mobilisation of fat, which is then oxidised at higher rates.
Here are 5 great ways to NEAT-ify your lifestyle:
1) Don't sit on the sofa when watching TV, sit on a Swiss ball instead
This will force you to engage your core, making your abdominal muscles work harder to regain stability and balance. It's a small change but, over time, it will strengthen your core, tone your abs and help to strengthen your back and stomach muscles, improving your posture in the process.
Fitness Equivalent: Sitting on the swiss ball will help to to burn between 112 and 165 calories per hour. This is equivalent of holding a plank exercise for 40 minutes.
2) Put on your favourite music and dance along when cleaning, cooking and doing housework
Dancing burns lots of calories, it engages all muscle groups and, the more you move around, the more calories you'll burn and the more areas you'll tone up. This will benefit your legs, arms, shoulders, stomach... the lot! It really does provide a whole body aerobic workout.
Invite some friends round for a party, or put on your favourite tunes to dance to whilst cleaning. Better still join a Zumba class and you'll burn even more! Obviously, the amount of calories you'll burn depends on your energy expenditure, how much dancing you actually do to the music, and the amount of time you do it for.
Fitness Equivalent: Dancing continuously for 35mins can burn up to 200 calories. That's the
equivalent of a 35 minute workout on a cross trainer.
Singing burns lots of calories. So turn up the volume on your music and sing along whilst working out (or doing chores) and you could burn up to 126 calories an hour on top of your workout just by singing along. It's also a great motivator as, if you're having fun, you'll forget about the hard work of exercising and workout harder, for longer.
Fitness Equivalent: Performing a kneeling vacuum exercise for 37 minutes can burn up to 126
4) Have More Sex
Just 25mins burns 104 calories in men and 69 calories in women. Plus, the more adventurous you are, the more you'll move around and tone different areas of your body.
Fitness Equivalent: Swimming for 15 minutes burns up to 119 calories (based on someone who
5) Stand up and walk around when on the phone
Whilst sitting at their desk, the average person only burns 15 calories a day when on the phone. However, by standing up and pacing around the room every time you're on the phone, you can burn up to 100-130 calories. A massive difference!
Fitness Equivalent: Walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes at an incline of 5%. This burns approx.
109 (based on someone who weighs around 150lbs).
Six more tiny ideas that make a big difference:
1. Tap your pen at work
2. Tap your foot as you sit
3. Stand up and sit down often
4. Clean up after each meal
5. Do some work in the garden
6. Move whilst in a queue
NEAT is a great way to top up your weight loss and fat burning goals in very subtle ways, it’s an effective strategy to augment your workouts without overtraining, and beyond that it’s an invitation to restore play, joy and outcome free movement into your life, which is also going to be great for mental health. This is one of those health interventions that is difficult to track, but its also difficult to forget, once you know about the power of NEAT, it’s like a mental upgrade go have fun and apply it.
Here’s what I do:
I shadow box….
I play imaginary drums (zero talent for real drums)
I use a lot of gestures when I talk (checkout my YouTube)