What is NEAT and Why is it Important?

NEAT = Non-exercise activity thermogenesis or simply all movement that isn’t sleeping, eating, or structured exercise. You can successfully combine everyday activity with diet and exercise to burn calories and lose fat through NEAT, even when you can’t fit in 3-5 workouts a week.

Why am I starting my blog talking about this and not about my favorite workouts or how I went from couch to half-marathon in little over a year? Because assuming you sleep 8 hours a day (more blog posts on that later!),

1 hour of exercise = 4% of your day

NEAT = 63% of your day

Exercise alone is generally not enough. The goal is to rethink your approach to where and how you burn calories throughout your day.

We’re talking about the things like walking the dog, pacing while you are on the phone, mowing the lawn, gardening, and cleaning the house.

sweeping the floor
Photo by cottonbro on

Focusing on increasing your NEAT will

  • Help with fat loss
  • Improve overall health
  • Enhance your mood

Exercise and improving overall fitness is vitally important to your health and wellness, but keeping your NEAT up throughout the day will then complement the exercise we want to do, and not feel like we have to do. So how do you burn more calories with NEAT?

  • Awareness: Make a list of every activity you do in a normal day. Then note how many are seated.
  • Reflect: Think of creative ways to modify a seated activity (like talking on the phone).
  • Challenge: Add new habits that just take small changes.
    • Take the stairs
    • Get a standing desk
    • Park farther out in the parking lot on your errands
    • Pace the sidelines at your kids’ athletic games.
    • Carry your groceries instead of pushing a cart.
    • Walk briskly through the mall.
    • Walk to a co-worker’s desk or neighbor’s house instead of emailing or calling them.

A 145 lb. person burns approximately 102 calories an hour while working at a seated desk, but burns 174 calories an hour if performing those same office duties while standing. That translates to 18,000 calories or over 5 lbs. a year (250 work days)! By comparison, that same person would need to squeeze in 60 thirty minute runs at 5 mph to achieve that same caloric burn.
-National Academy of Sports Medicine

Track your Progress:

Are you committed to increasing your NEAT? Measure your progress with a step counter or fitness tracker. Make sure to set realistic improvement goals. If you are starting out at 2,500 steps a day, shooting for 10,000 will be discouraging. Choose a realistic increase based on what you know your lifestyle and overall health will allow.

I’m a FITBIT fan because they are affordable and simple to use, but there are a ton of great options at all price points! #ad

Shop Fitness Trackers:


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