Burn calories and lose weight when you are not at the gym. Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT helps burn calories (and lose weight) through daily activities performed in intervals or continuously during the day. Surprised? Read more to know what the experts say…
“Be active naturally” – Dr James Levine’s wisdom on NEAT is an eye opener for people who are either reluctant or unsure of making major lifestyle interventions. Let us take a simple example of the average working professional (who also exercises). An 8-hour work schedule is long enough, but if he/she is walking around a huge office with 5 floors (and no elevator), talks to a lot of people and fidgets a lot at his/her desk (being glued to the desk is a no-no), that’s NEAT(er) than just a 30-minute morning run and 8 hours of screen time.
How Does NEAT Work?
The exact mechanism underlying NEAT is still under investigation. However, the final outcome and impact on weight management and wellness is sufficiently established – enough reason for all of us to start engaging in such routines for everlasting fitness.
Another interesting observation (confirmed by clinical studies) is that NEAT levels differs one day to the next within an individual, and between individuals too. Bottom line – you are better off spending energy throughout the day (in little or big blocks) instead of a sedentary lifestyle. Like a car and its fuel, your body’s NEAT level has a deep relationship with your mechanical efficiency (so to speak).
Pros & Cons
Advantages of NEAT
- Economical. It’s free, amigos.
- Reduced mental fatigue.
- Improved energy levels for post-work/family activities.
- Reduces risk for obesity and lifestyle syndromes.
- Great maintenance for fitness freaks who are in between formal exercise programs.
- Flexibility with daily regimen- you are now allowed to skip that early morning/post dinner workout (occasionally, mind).
- Medical conditions like a poor back (which might prevent high intensity training) need not be a road-blocker to your fitness resolutions.
- It is one of the hottest trends right now. Once you start doing it, others will do it, too.
Limitations of NEAT
- Not a stand-alone weight-loss solution/replacement for training routine(s).
- Might not work for people forced to stand/sit all day (occupational constraint)
There are plenty of NEAT ways to stay fit. Don’t just walk and talk (over the phone).
Instead… mow, garden, clean, dust, teach, lift (weights/children), cook, dance (in the shower), shop (for 3 hours), scoot up the staircase (2 stairs at a time if you can), organize (cupboards and drawers), watch TV while on a swiss ball…..the list is endless.
Improved fitness enhances one’s happiness quotient. This can be achieved (along with other healthy habits) by filling up our NEAT tanks. What are we waiting for? Let’s get moving!
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About the Author
Rasika Raman is a 27 year old fitness enthusiast who currently does 30 minutes of Pilates 3 times a week.