Right now there is so much uncertainty in the world, and people are looking for anything and everything to make each day feel normal. Including continuing to participate in their daily workouts, which is AWESOME. If you are someone that has continued to put their health first, congratulations, seriously. It is hard to stay motivated during this time and you have done it. But what are you doing the other 23 hours of the day? Most of us are working from home and stuck behind a computer screen from 9-5 or for at least an extended period. This is why we are going to talk about NEAT! Non-exercise activity thermogenesis…. sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it?!
So… What is non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)?
It sounds pretty intimidating I’m sure, but NEAT is just a fancy word for the amount of energy you spend moving around being active that isn’t usually considered a “workout”. For example, the five times you go up and down the stairs to do laundry, or carrying all 12 bags of groceries from your car into your house in one trip.
Why is NEAT important for my health?
NEAT is often underestimated when it comes to assessing energy expenditure because most people don’t know about or consider it. Generally, we assume we burn a lot of calories exercising and then fairly little the rest of the day, but that is not the case.
We actually burn fewer calories exercising than we think. For example, a standard hour in the gym taking a CrossFit class you will only burn around ~300-350 calories and possibly even less depending on your size. Most of us are at home still crushing workouts (air five, seriously keep it up) but sometimes that’s not enough.
Whereas the number of calories you can burn by staying as active as possible throughout the day (even at a much slower pace or intensity than an at-home workout) will have a far bigger impact on your daily energy expenditure, thus calories burned.
What are the things you can do to increase NEAT?
Drink a lot of water. Besides being a good habit, it will make you get up and walk to the bathroom often. It adds up, trust me!
Pace around the house while on a conference call or phone call.
Set an alarm on your phone, watch or computer to get up and move every 30 minutes or so.
When you do go out…take social distancing seriously. Park as far away as possible from the entrance or any other cars.
When you are near an elevator, take the stairs instead.
Go outside and play with your kids, walk the dog, or take a walk alone to regroup.
Schedule a lunch break in your day to stretch and move around, physically put it on our schedule.
Have a friend who you can call to go on “walks” together.
Make yourself a standing desk option for work.
Get a Fitbit, Polar watch or some sort of device that helps track your steps to hold you accountable.
“Simply put, too much sitting, with its characteristics reduced energy expenditure and absence of whole-body movement, may jeopardize health even in the presence of regular exercise.”
The point of this post is not to make you think that you have to go out and run a marathon every day. Please don’t do that, but be mindful of how much you’re moving throughout the day. We were made to move. Like my grandma always told me, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” Now I highly doubt you will forget how to walk, but let's not take that chance!
We are only going to get through this together. Hang in there everyone and keep moving!