If you are one of the millions of people that don’t enjoy traditional exercise, take heart! You’ll be happy to hear about the NEAT term, which stands for
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. (Big word, so I looked it up! Thermogenesis is a metabolic process during which your body burns calories to produce heat.)
NEAT is the energy you burn when you are not sleeping, eating, resting or deliberately exercising. It’s a great alternative for those who either don’t have the time, or simply loathe exercising.
Now that we have such accurate wearable fitness devices, researchers have been able to measure energy expenditure, rather than just count steps, and they have discovered that dozens of non-exercise activities can be slipped into our daily routine to help keep us healthy and fit.
Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine coined the term when he was the director of the Obesity Solutions initiative. “Anybody can have a NEAT lifestyle,” he said. “Our research showed that you can take two adults of the same weight and one can burn an extra 350 kilocalories (per day) simply by getting rid of labor saving devices and moving more throughout the day.”
If you are retired, home maintenance can be an excellent form of NEAT. For example, making your bed uses as much energy as walking! Scrub the counters, sweep the floor, walk the dog, carry the groceries, gardening, going up and down stairs – it all adds up.
If you do need to sit a lot, emulate that wiggly kid in 3rd grade that drove your teacher crazy – move your legs in various directions, stand up and sit down, tap your toes and lift your heels. The more you move, the better.