Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)If you want to burn calories without exercise, experts will tell you to increase your NEAT. This is a fancy term for all of the movement you do that is not vigorous enough to be called a workout. According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, NEAT could play a major role in whether or not we lose weight, gain weight or even develop obesity.
So, how many calories can your NEAT burn? It varies, but the number could be significant. According to one study, because everyone's activity level is so different, calories burned from NEAT can vary from person to person by up to 2000 kcal per day.
5 Ways to Burn Calories with NEAT
Burn more calories at the office.
Having a sedentary job isn't a direct cause of obesity, but sitting for extended periods could become a cause of weight gain in some people. The American Heart Association reported that "obese individuals appear to exhibit an innate tendency to be seated for 2.5 hours per day more than sedentary lean counterparts." Researchers estimated that if obese individuals could adopt the NEAT habits of their lean counterparts, they could burn an additional 350 calories per day.
If you have a desk job, create a habit to get up for at least 15 minutes every hour. Take a walk to the farthest restroom or water cooler, run an errand, take the stairs instead of the elevator or do your filing from a standing rather than seated position. Grab a few co-workers and make increasing your NEAT part of a healthy-office routine.
Burn more calories while you relax.
How many hours will you burn tonight while you lie down and watch television? How many calories can you burn if you just added some light activity to your TV viewing?
Don't let your relaxation time be the cause of weight gain. Fold laundry, dust furniture or sweep the floor while you watch television. If you like to talk on the phone, walk around during your chat instead of sitting down. And try to limit computer time to 15-minute intervals.
Burn more calories with the kids.
Teaching your children to increase their daily activity may save them from weight gain in the future. And it will help you, too! If you want to slim down without exercise, find ways to increase your walking time during the day. Walk the kids to school or to the bus stop. If you drive them, choose a parking spot at the back of the lot and use those extra steps to chat with them about their day.
And parents, if you are tempted to scold your kids for fidgeting, you might want to think twice. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, fidgeting is a common form of NEAT and can contribute to a healthy metabolism.
Burn more calories with daily chores.
According to the activity tracker at CalorieCount.com, household chores can burn a few hundred calories per hour. The actual number depends on your size and gender. For example, a petite woman burns about 160 calories per hour doing moderate chores while a larger man would burn substantially more. But who would have thought that sweeping your floor could cause weight loss? Grab a mop and see how many calories you can burn..
Once the cleaning is done, there are always organizational tasks that can help you prevent weight gain. Organize your closet, unpack boxes or clean the garage to increase your NEAT.
- Burn more calories at social events.
How many times have you entered a party in a friend's home and scanned the room for a comfy place to sit? The next time you go to a party, burn extra calories by becoming more social. Choose to stand or circle the room and talk to as many party goers as possible. Offer to help in the kitchen, take a tour of the garden or greet guests at the door to stay active. You'll be the life of the party and increase your NEAT at the same time.
Sources:Frey, M. (2011) Interview with Hanna Curlee, runner up, The Biggest Loser, season 11.
Levine JA. " Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)." Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;16(4):679-702.
James A Levine, Sara J Schleusner and Michael D Jensen. " Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 72, No. 6, 1451-1454, December 2000.
James A. Levine, Mark W. Vander Weg, James O. Hill, Robert C. Klesges. " Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis." Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology January 18, 2006.