If we look at lifestyle differences in most people from even just 50-100 years ago it’s no secret that automation and the digital revolution has taken us by storm. We no longer wait in line for a teller because we have online banking and ATMs and groceries can come straight to our doors with the click of a few buttons. Although convenient, what is this doing to our physical health and could addressing this area of your life be the key to reaching your goals?
What is NEAT?
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and is, in short, all the moving you do in a day that you don’t consider exercise. This means anything like taking out the garbage, walking around the grocery store, doing laundry and vacuuming.
What does this mean for your body composition?
The total amount of energy you use up in a day is a combination of the energy it takes to keep you alive at a cellular level, the energy you use to exercise and the energy you use to do all the other activity. So, assuming you are getting some exercise in a week, the most reasonable way to increase your total energy expenditure is by adjusting NEAT, or simply put, filling your day with more general, low impact activity.
Someone who is sedentary and adds in a single walk in their day may notice remarkable differences; however, if you are already generally active throughout your entire day the changes may not be as significant but it may be worth a shot to try and find more opportunities for it!
Simple ways to increase your daily activity levels
- Park farther away from the store or destination
- Stand when doing stationary household tasks like folding laundry or chopping vegetables
- Turn on your favourite podcast and go for a walk for the duration of the entire episode
- Have fun and play alongside your kids outside
- Turn on some music and just dance
- Go to the restaurant and order food in person instead of choosing delivery
- Consciously choose to take on more physical tasks around the home if someone else is largely responsible for them now
Why increase NEAT and not just do more exercise?
At the end of the day, exercise is stressful for the body. It’s a good kind of stress, but too much of a good thing can also be bad. The great thing about NEAT is that these activities for the most part go unnoticed and may not make a huge difference in your appetite but in the end will likely enrich it, both by adding more activity into your day and consequently giving you more energy to continue staying active throughout your days to come.