When we think of fitness and an active lifestyle, most of us picture going to the gym and getting our sweat on. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, we’re missing out on a whole other piece to the puzzle.
Physical activity comes in all shapes and sizes, and the things we may take for granted, like cleaning and taking the stairs, matter a great deal when it comes to fitness.
This concept is known as NEAT and if you’ve never heard of it, keep reading!
What is NEAT?
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, and it refers to the energy we expend doing physical tasks other than sleeping, eating, or structured exercise.
In other words, NEAT activities include things like going up the stairs in your house, cooking, cleaning, and walking the dog.
After all, any physical activity we do, no matter how small and trivial it may seem, will expend energy and contribute to metabolic functions and a healthy level of fitness.
Benefits of Boosting NEAT
There are countless benefits of boosting NEAT, and all of them have to do with your overall quality of life.
Staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle should include planned exercise, but it’s also as simple as doing the everyday physical tasks that we don’t think of as burning calories.
In our estimation, the main benefits of boosting NEAT include:
- Less prolonged sitting
- It doesn’t feel like exercise
- Creates a holistic approach to fitness
Again, while we might have the tools and technology to let someone or something else do our work for us while we sit around, it doesn’t mean we should take advantage of that fact. Prolonged sitting has far-reaching negative effects, and thinking about how to boost NEAT in your life can help you simply get off your booty.
Plus, NEAT doesn’t feel like exercise. You’re not pumping out reps or red in the face, yet you’re still using energy and toning your muscles.
And, with that, you’re then taking a more holistic approach to fitness. Boosting NEAT means you’re active in a well-rounded way versus a couch potato or a gym rat with nothing in between.
Tips to Boost NEAT
Let’s start with a few simple tips to boost NEAT in your life.
Stand When You Can
We’re sitting for longer than ever in the modern world, and our bodies just aren’t made for it. Standing really makes a difference and can help mitigate the negative consequences of prolonged sitting.
So, stand during your meetings or when you’re on the phone. You might even pace around the room and keep your body moving in between tasks.
Do the Chores Yourself
Instead of hiring help to do the cleaning so that you can sit on the couch, do the chores yourself for a boost of NEAT.
Vacuuming, mopping, gardening, cooking, and washing the car can really add up in the NEAT department.
Walk If It’s Reasonable
It’s easy to get into the habit of driving everywhere, even if you’re only going a few blocks away.
Instead, if it’s reasonable, walk to work or the grocery store. Or, if it makes sense, take a bike to travel longer distances. You can also walk to the bus stop or train station to get some extra movement into your day.
Take the Long Way
If it’s unreasonable to skip the commute in your car completely, take the long way when you can. Park farther away from the office so that you have to walk 10 minutes to get there. Or take the stairs if your apartment is on the fifth floor.
A little goes a long way, and taking the long way can do a lot.
Don’t Use Technology as a Crutch
Instead of texting a coworker about a client, get up and have a chat face to face. Instead of Facetiming your siblings, set up a get-together that involves playing catch or wrangling the kids at the park.
Often, we use technology in a way that keeps us sedentary and unhealthy. So, use technology as a tool, not a crutch, to keep you from getting off the couch.
NEAT + Planned Exercise
It’s important to note that NEAT plus planned exercise is your best bet if you’re looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. It’s key to have fitness goals and to meet them using a structured workout plan.
But, the main point we’re trying to get across is that NEAT activities are often overlooked, but they matter a great deal.
So, in addition to your OOMPH workouts, think about how you can boost NEAT and see fitness from a whole new perspective.