Boost Your Metabolism with Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis(NEAT)
General Nutrition • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
In today’s sedentary lifestyle, people often spend long hours sitting or engaging in minimal physical activity, leading to various health concerns. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can help offset the negative effects of such sedentary behaviour. NEAT refers to the energy expended by the body while engaging in daily activities that are not planned exercise. It is a crucial component of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which helps maintain a healthy energy balance.
What is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)?
NEAT is a term coined by Dr. James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, to describe the energy expenditure associated with all physical activities other than planned exercise, such as walking, gardening, and fidgeting. NEAT constitutes up to 15% of TDEE and varies between individuals based on various factors such as gender, age, and the amount and type of activities involved. To accurately estimate the actual energy spent for NEAT, the amount and type of activities must be known, which can be challenging due to the vast variety of daily activities.
What are the benefits of NEAT?
NEAT is an effective way to burn calories and maintain a healthy energy balance. In addition, increasing NEAT can improve overall health by reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. NEAT has also been shown to improve mood, cognitive function, and sleep quality.
What are the factors that Influence NEAT?
Several factors can influence NEAT, including occupation, environment, genetics, and body composition. Physical activity generally decreases with increasing age and is lower in overweight and obese individuals compared to leaner ones. Negative energy balance, such as during weight loss, can also decrease NEAT. NEAT is more prominent in societies where women are involved in more physical activities at home and work, as well as in individuals engaged in manual labor. However, in most societies, NEAT is decreasing due to the increasing use of technology and sedentary lifestyles.
How can I increase my Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)?
It is highly recommended to practice more physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior to maintain a healthy energy balance. Small changes like standing more often, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and doing household chores can help increase NEAT and contribute to overall physical activity levels. Here are some effective ways to increase NEAT:
- Take frequent standing and walking breaks: Instead of sitting for long periods of time, take frequent breaks to stand up and move around. This could mean taking a short walk around the office or your home, or simply standing up and stretching for a few minutes.
- Do household chores: Doing household chores like cleaning, cooking, and gardening can help increase NEAT. These activities require physical movement and can burn calories while also getting things done around the house.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator: Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a simple way to add physical activity to your day. It requires more energy and engages more muscles, which can help increase NEAT.
- Use a standing desk: Using a standing desk can help reduce sedentary behavior and increase NEAT. Standing burns more calories than sitting and can also help improve posture and reduce back pain.
- Engage in outdoor activities: Outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and playing sports can help increase NEAT while also providing other health benefits. These activities require physical movement and can be a fun way to stay active.
Can NEAT replace traditional exercise?
While NEAT can be beneficial for overall health and weight management, it is not a replacement for regular exercise. Traditional exercise has many benefits beyond calorie burning, such as improving cardiovascular health, building muscle, and reducing stress. Ideally, you should aim to incorporate both NEAT and structured exercise into your daily routine.
How can NEAT benefit overall health?
In addition to boosting metabolism and potentially aiding in weight management, NEAT has many other health benefits. Research has shown that people who have higher NEAT tend to have better insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, incorporating more movement into your day can improve mood and cognitive function.
Are there any downsides to focusing on NEAT?
While increasing NEAT can be beneficial, it’s important to avoid becoming obsessed with tracking and maximizing every movement. This can lead to stress and anxiety, which can have negative effects on both physical and mental health. It’s important to find a balance between increasing NEAT and maintaining a healthy relationship with physical activity.
Can NEAT help with weight loss?
Yes, increasing NEAT can help with weight loss by burning more calories and contributing to a healthy energy balance. However, it is important to note that NEAT alone may not be sufficient for achieving significant weight loss. Instead, NEAT should be incorporated into an overall diet and exercise program that also includes a healthy diet and regular physical activity. Are there any risks associated with NEAT? Generally, NEAT is considered a safe and effective way to increase physical activity levels. However, people with certain medical conditions should consult their doctors before increasing NEAT, as some activities such as high-impact activities may lead to injury in certain cases.
Is NEAT the same for everyone?
No, NEAT can vary greatly among individuals based on factors such as occupation, lifestyle, and genetics. For example, someone with a job that requires a lot of standing and walking may have a higher NEAT than someone with a desk job. Similarly, genetics can also play a role in determining an individual’s NEAT level. However, everyone can benefit from finding ways to increase their NEAT throughout the day, regardless of their starting point.
Can NEAT be measured?
Yes, NEAT can be measured using a variety of methods, including activity trackers, pedometers, and energy expenditure monitors. However, accurately measuring NEAT can be challenging because it includes a wide range of activities and movements that may not be captured by these devices. Additionally, some people may find tracking their NEAT to be stressful or counterproductive, so it’s important to find a balance that works for you.
NEAT is a simple and effective way to burn calories and promote a healthy energy balance. Increasing NEAT, even in small ways, can have positive effects on overall health and well-being. By taking the stairs instead of the elevator, engaging in outdoor activities, or using a standing desk, people can easily add more physical activity to their daily routines to boost their metabolism and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Levine, J. A. (2002) ‘Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)’, Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 16(4), pp. 679–702. doi: 10.1053/beem.2002.0227.
- Donahoo, W. T., Levine, J. A. and Melanson, E. L. (2004) ‘Variability in energy expenditure and its components’, Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 7(6), pp. 599–605. doi: 10.1097/00075197-200411000-00003.
- Levine, J. A. (2001). The Work Burden of Women. Science, 294(5543), 812–812. doi:10.1126/science.1064627
- Levine, J. A. (2015) ‘Sick of sitting’, Diabetologia, 58(8), p. 1751. doi: 10.1007/S00125-015-3624-6.
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