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A NEAT Way to Burn Calories

Forget the bus- bike to work!  

Forget the bus- bike to work!  


With 2014 less than twelve weeks away, I’ve been getting an increasing number of emails and phone calls requesting assistance in body transformation to ring in the new year. As you already know, losing weight and keeping it off requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and at times, discomfort. Changing habits, sweating regularly, and carving out five to ten hours per week for fitness can be a real challenge in the first few months, when these behaviors are still new and thus, intimidating. While some people are ready to take the transformation plunge and fully commit to a new way of living, many others just aren’t prepared to do so yet. There are additional strategies that you can incorporate into your daily routine which will still help you get to your goals while easing you into a more physical lifestyle. One of those strategies I’m going to address today is NEAT, otherwise known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is defined by Dr. James Levine, an expert on obesity and pioneering researcher on NEAT, as the energy we expend for everything we do that isn’t sleeping, eating or sports-like activity. NEAT could be anything from walking or cycling to work, shopping, cooking, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, folding the laundry, walking while chatting on the phone, or even fidgeting. In fact, new research shows that fidgeters – people who restlessly move their hands, feet, arms or legs—expend an average of 352 additional calories each day! And, those who actively incorporate NEAT can burn an average of 269 to 477 calories per day, and up to 1,000 calories per day by some estimates. Research also shows that obese people are far more sedentary than lean people, sitting an average of 150 minutes more per day. Mounting evidence shows that there is a strong and direct correlation between levels of NEAT and body fat composition.

While there’s no substitute for a challenging, heart-pumping workout, adding more NEAT into your routine is proven to be beneficial for weight loss and overall health. Here are thirty ideas for daily NEAT activities that you can incorporate into your life to move more and burn more:

Out and about:
1. Shift your weight from one foot to the other while waiting in line at the store
2. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
3. Take a longer route to walk to your destination
4. Perform calf raises while waiting for your coffee or tea at the café
5. Pace while waiting for the MRT
6. Run with your dog
7. Jog from errand to errand
8. Speed walk through the airport while waiting for your flight
9. Don’t just window shop- try on lots of clothes!
10. Perform arm curls with your grocery bags or water bottle

At the office:
11. Walk to work
12. Jog in place while at the water cooler
13. Walk to the bathroom furthest from your desk, instead of using the closest one
14. Walk to a coworker’s desk instead of calling or texting 
15. Walk around the office for 10 minutes each hour
16. Squat over your chair ten times every hour
17. Walk while on your coffee break
18. Use a Standing Desk
19. Perform walking lunges when traveling between conference rooms
20. Jog or bike home from work

At home:
21. Get up and walking around every time a commercial comes on TV
22. Do squats as you change the channels on the remote control
23. Play fetch or tug of war with your dog
24. Cook at home- slice lots of veggies!
25. Wash dishes by hand
26. Sweep and mop the floor
27. Tend to an herb garden
28. Wash your own car by hand
29. Dance in the shower (just don’t slip!)
30. Waltz with your baby

How NEAT is that? What types of daily activities do you do that increase your NEAT levels? Are you paying more attention to how much time you spend sitting vs. moving? Leave your thoughts in the comments section- I’d love to hear from you! 


© Tangram Fitness 2013