N.E.A.T Exercise for Health
We probably all know someone who never does any formal exercise, eats like a horse, and is somehow super slim. There may be all kinds of reasons for this including metabolic rate and the make up of their gut microbiome. But there could be something else going on too: It’s called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This refers to all the physical activity we do that isn’t formal exercise. It could be vacuum cleaning, gardening, walking to the coffee machine or just plain fidgeting.
Some people move constantly even when sitting down. They’ll be jiggling their leg, tapping a foot, or drumming their fingers. Others can’t sit down for more than a few minutes without getting up to do something or just to wonder around aimlessly. This is all referred to as NEAT.
The Danger of Sitting
Spending hours sitting down every day has been likened to smoking in terms of the negative effects on health. Even going to the gym for an hour a day doesn’t counteract the many hours most of us spend seated. This is where NEAT is so valuable. The small movements we make throughout the day add up and the cumulative effect results in a fired up metabolism.
NEAT has been found to reduce inflammatory markers and improve blood sugar control and may even lead to a longer, healthier life.
Don’t Let Your Job Stop You
Having a non-sedentary job is obviously a big help when it comes to NEAT. Gardeners, builders, nurses and cleaners all naturally have a lot of NEAT in their lives. However, most people have sedentary jobs that involve sitting down for hours on end.
Making a conscious effort to increase your NEAT, along with a regular exercise programme, could improve your health in the short and long term.
Here are some ways you to increase your NEAT:
• Get up and move around as often as possible, whether at work or at home.
• Stand up and walk around when on the phone.
• Stand up for conversations or meetings.
• Walk to the shops or to see your friends and neighbours.
• Take up gardening.
• Clean the house with gusto and count it as exercise.
• For every 30 minutes you spend sitting down, stand up for 5 minutes.
• Go and see people at work rather than sending an email.
• Don’t text people who are in the next room. Walk through and see them.
• Get up and have a stretch during the advert breaks when watching tele.
• Always take the stairs rather than the lift.
• Always walk or cycle if you are going somewhere reasonably local.