You probably know the basic idea of losing weight: eat less & exercise more. At the beginning of your weight loss journey, you will find that the weight will come off quickly. But then your weight loss might stall even though you are still eating healthy and hitting the gym 3-5 times a week. How to overcome it? The answer might be NEAT.
NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
This is a fancy, scientific name for the movement you do when you’re not exercising. Think of everyday stuff you do while living your life, like walking, fidgeting, typing, and cleaning. That is NEAT.
While these activities might seem inconsequential, they burn calories that add up quickly. And those burned calories can make a big difference in your quest to lose weight.
You must burn an extra 3500 calories in a week to lose one pound of fat.
And for most people, going to the gym is not enough activity to burn all those calories. Even if you go hard every time you are at the gym, you might still only be burning 300-400 calories per workout. And if your calorie deficit is not enough, you will wind up stalling out and not losing fat.
The good news: adding in non-exercises activities can burn to up to 300 extra calories /day. An extra 2100 calories per week!
You may think you are saving time by circling the parking lot for the closest space to the store, but you are actually doing yourself a disservice. You are cheating your body out of extra calories to burn and possibly shortening your life.
Studies have shown that people with higher NEAT live longer.
Up to three years longer, in fact. A sedentary lifestyle leads to a higher risk of diseases and a shorter lifespan.
So why not take the extra few minutes to move more, burn some extra calories, and live a better life?
Here are a few ways to increase your NEAT. Remember, these do not have to be big, heart-pounding movements. These are small, simple ways to increase your daily activity. And the good news is that they can be fun and easy to do.
1. Track Steps
Fitness trackers can help you track non-exercise activity. You have probably heard you should try to get 10,000 steps in a day. A tracker will do the counting for you and let you know if that trip to the grocery store was as exhausting as it seemed. If 10,000 steps seem impossible, then start small.
Once you know what your normal daily step count is, add in a 10 minute walk every evening.
If you’re a morning person, get up a few minutes early and walk then. If you have a four-legged friend, taking your dog for an extra-long walk will make both you and him happy.
As you watch your steps increase, you can find creative ways to move more during the day. Don’t take the car when you need to do some light shopping. Instead go on foot, if the weather allows it and enjoy the fresh air.
If you’re the type that works better in a team, it might be worth finding an Accountability Buddy. You can go out together for that morning walk and make sure you increase your NEAT.
2. Move Every Hour
If you work an office job, you probably struggle with getting up and moving around during the day. It is very easy to get caught up in work (or pretending to work) and lose a few hours to the computer screen.
Here is where your fitness tracker comes in handy. Most new models come with an alarm that will let you know when you’ve been sedentary for too long. This is a perfect excuse to get up and move around for a few minutes.
You can refresh your coffee, go to the bathroom, or check in on the cute co-worker a few cubicles over. If you don’t want to buy a tracker, then use your phone.
Set alarms for every hour to get up and move. Shoot for 250 steps per hour.
You can even try walking meetings. Head outdoors and boost your creativity with a walking meeting (when you have a call). If it’s a team meeting, see if you could do it outdoor. It might work just fine if it’s a brainstorming or an update meeting.
Useful gadget: the Apple Watch is one of the devices we recommend for a more active and healthier lifestyle. Besides challenges, steps tracking and workouts, one of the key features of Apple Watch is the “Stand Reminder”. This sends you a notification every 50 minutes to stand up and move around for a bit.
In case you do have an Apple Watch you might be interested to check out our article on how Progress integrates with Apple Health.
3. Take the Long Way Around
Do you have a tendency to drive to places that are close to your home or office? Walk instead.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator, every single time. Park in the back of the parking lot even if there are closer spots available. Consider taking public transportation to work. You could save money, help the environment, and get more movement by doing this! If you already take public transportation, see if you can get off a stop or two away from your destination so you can get a few extra steps in.
Remember, even a five-minute walking session makes a difference.
When was the last time you did something physical for fun? Have you walked to the park recently? Made an effort to feed the ducks at your local pond?
Find ways to have more childish fun.
Dance parties are not just for kids, you know. Fly a kite on a windy day. Walk with your kids to the park or take a family bike ride. Remember, this is not for distance or heart-pumping energy. It is just about moving your body. Maybe it is time to get out of old video games and play Dance Dance Revolution or Rock Band again.
Pick something that you genuinely enjoy doing and make it a priority. Do not feel guilty about having fun or seeming silly. You are making your life better and losing weight at the same time.
So the next time you’re looking to increase that calorie burn, find a NEAT way of doing it.