NEAT is an acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is just another word for fat burning. It’s the energy expended on a daily basis that excludes normal metabolic functions and structured physical activity. It’s the additional energy you use from doing things like fidgeting, chewing, general movement, squirming around in your chair for example. It’s estimated that 60% of our total energy requirements is taken up by just living. This is tallied as part of your basal metabolic rate; 10% from the digestion of food, 10% from structured activity and the remaining 20% is taken up by very low levels of physical activity we call NEAT.
The simple act of chewing can increase energy expenditure by up to 20% above our resting metabolic rate. In some cases these small accumulations in energy used in NEAT activities it will actually account for a larger energy expenditure than structured exercise. You can burn more calories to assist in weight loss by just increasing the more low level activities you do, rather thrashing your body at the gym.
NEAT fidgeting can help you burn calories
Fidgeting is just a form of movement, you have muscles working and activating, which burns energy. Muscles need energy to contract, the more muscles we contract the more energy we burn. Other NEAT activities include; house work, getting up to change the TV stations, brushing your hair, moving in your seat, standing up and sitting down in the seat, putting the bins out, patting the dog, sweeping the floor, chopping wood, carrying the shopping bags – there are so many!!
Depending on the NEAT activity you’re talking about it would have different additional benefits. Activities that require bending at the knees like; hanging the washing on the line, loading the dish washer and getting up out of the seat, would help to maintain leg strength and maintain fitness levels. If you did enough and your diet was controlled it could help you lose weight.
Things like laughter, sleeping well or patting the dog can decrease stress and anxiety levels improving mental health as well.
Although, you can’t accurately predict how much energy you will burn at each activity. as NEAT expenditure is dependent on age, weight, genetics, gender etc here are some rough values to play with:
NEAT calories burnt;
• 11 calories= 45.3kj an hour while chewing
• 1.3 calories = 5.35kj per minute while laughing
• 1.3 calories= 5.35kj while taking notes in a classroom or standing and talking on the phone
• 1.6 – 5 calories = 6.59- 20.6kj per min hour doing housework
• 1.6 calories = 6.59kj Moderate yard work, such as raking leaves or grass
How to increase your NEAT activities
NEAT activities have been slowly removed from our daily lives through the advent of computers and machines. You can add it back in by removing items designed to generate “convenience” because convenience is often at the expense of movement.
Examples on how to increase your NEAT:
• Avoid using drive through at fast food restaurants
• Get rid of the TV remote
• Take the stairs instead of the lift
• Chew your food well at least 15-20x per mouthful
• Hang the washing on the line stead of using the drier
• Wash the dishes instead of using the dish washer
• Clean your own home, instead of hiring a cleaner
• Rearrange the office so you need to stand up to reach the photocopier or
Can you think of any more NEAT activities to add to your day?