Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, cleaning and fidgeting.
NEAT could be a critical component in how we maintain our body weight and/or gain or lose weight.
Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that plays a critical role in converting fat into energy. Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can reduce levels of LPL. Conversely, using NEAT to move consistently throughout the day can help sustain LPL levels and help the body maintain its ability to burn fat.
Standing can make a difference. Evidence shows that sitting still for too long can be hazardous to your health. Simply standing is one form of NEAT that can help increase your daily caloric expenditure.
Daily steps add up. The U.S. Department of Health has been promoting 10k steps a day as an achievable goal for daily physical activity. Even if you don’t make it to 10k steps, adding extra steps to your day is an important component of NEAT that can burn calories, while adding health-promoting activity to your life.
Doing additional tasks around the house or putting a little extra effort into your daily chores can be a great opportunity to increase daily NEAT.
Play with your kids. An additional benefit to playing is that it can also help boost neural activity and cognition, so not only are you burning a few more calories, you could actually be increasing your brain function as well.
If losing weight is your primary reason for exercising, NEAT is an essential component. One pound of body fat can provide approximately 3,500 calories worth of energy. Increasing NEAT by 200 calories (about the equivalent of walking two miles), while also making healthier nutritional choices to reduce caloric intake by 300 calories (the equivalent of a 12-ounce soda and a small bag of potato chips) equals about five hundred fewer calories a day. If you do that seven days a week, you will quickly reach the amount of calories necessary to eliminate a pound of fat. Seems small but, making the effort to change your daily habits by adding more NEAT along with reducing overall caloric intake creates a foundation for long-lasting weight-loss success.
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