You're probably familiar with the core principles of weight loss: eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and manageing stress. And while these factors all play a role, there's one concept that's often overlooked when it comes to weight loss: non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.
NEAT refers to any activity that you do throughout the day outside of formal exercise and sleeping. "NEAT is a huge part of the weight-loss puzzle that many people overlook," Eric Bowling, an NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance who helps clients lose weight, told POPSUGAR. "Your hour in the gym will only contribute so much to your daily energy expenditure; it's what you do in the other 23 hours of your day that has a much bigger impact on your overall energy expenditure."
For people who work more labour-intensive and active jobs — construction workers, personal trainers, restaurant servers — their NEAT is usually sufficient throughout the day. But for the rest of us, who work sedentary jobs where we drive to work and sit at a desk for eight or more hours before driving home and watching TV on the couch, our NEAT is basically non-existent.
One of the easiest ways to increase NEAT is to get in more steps — aim for 10,000 a day for weight loss. You can track your steps with a Fitbit, Apple Watch, pedometer, or free app on your smartphone. Struggling to get your steps in? Try parking farther away from your destination or getting off a stop or two before your destination on public transportation. Looking for more ways to up your NEAT? Check out this list below, including ideas from Eric.
Examples of NEAT:
- Washing dishes
- DIY projects
- Mowing the lawn
- Raking leaves
- Washing the car
- Playing with your kids
- Taking the dog for a walk
- Going on a hike with a friend
- Walking with your partner after dinner
- Exploring your city
- Carrying groceries back from the store
- Doing a quick bodyweight circuit when you wake up