When people think of weight loss, or overall health, they usually think about two things: exercise and nutrition. While those should be the base of fitness, there is one aspect that is often overlooked: NEAT. If you workout one hour a day, 5 days out of the week, that is less than 3% of the total amount of hours in that week. Your NEAT, on the other hand, will spend way more calories and will often dictate how healthy you are.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is every physical activity you do that is not deliberately exercise. Cleaning the house, walking the dogs, standing at work instead of sitting, biking with your kids to school instead of driving them and even cooking. As you can see, the time, and calories, you spend at NEAT will usually be superior than what you spend working out over the course of a week or month.

There are studies that show two people of similar size can have a difference of up to 2000 calories burned just in NEAT in one day. Usually that will come down to work and hobbies. Those who walk at work, or stand, or sit on a stability ball will burn more calories. Similarly, if you like doing yard work, are a clean freak, or have to walk the dogs, you will likely have a greater NEAT.

The easiest way to increase your NEAT is to count your steps. Nowadays every phone and every smartwatch have built-in step-counter apps. But the idea is not to add walking around just to get your steps ins. The goal would be to accumulate more steps while still doing the same things you normally do. You want to make your day and life healthier, and not make up for a day of sitting around by adding a walk.

Don’t neglect exercise though.

Exercise, specially intense exercise, increases NEAT. After some high intensity exercise the body spends hours recovering and rebuilding. It will also stress your muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments and cardiovascular system in a way NEAT alone cannot. Another benefit is that exercise will make your metabolism more efficient, which will help your total daily energy expenditure.

Make sure you increase your NEAT for basically all your health goals. There are many ways we can increase our Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. If you need help figuring out what to do to improve your health, inside or outside the gym, come chat with one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches!


by Coach Matt