N.E.A.T Explanation (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) (Updated)

This is an updated version from the original one that I posted last year in September. IF you are interested in reading the original you can click here.

Today’s post will be a 2-in-1. I’m going to explain what N.E.A.T is and then I’m going to give you some simple N.E.A.T exercises that you can do every day and chances are you probably are doing them and didn’t even know it.

We all know that when it comes to overall health, just making it to the gym is not enough daily movement. Try more calorie-burning into your day with these easy ideas. Simply moving more and sitting less can boost your health because of the calorie burning called N.E.A.T, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It takes energy — calories — to move even the smallest muscle. For example, you burn about 1.5 calories per minute just lying still while your body performs its most basic functions. Go from lying down to sitting in a chair and answering e-mail, and you’ll burn 25 percent more calories. Now start fidgeting in your chair and you’ll burn more.

And all those little movements can add up: The amount of everyday activity you get — beyond the 30 minutes of traditional exercise you might be doing — might matter even more for your overall health than trips to the gym. Here are some N.E.A.T ways to make the move more concept work for you.


Your metabolism is always working to burn energy. During periods of higher activity, your body will burn more calories than when you are at rest. (Note: A calorie is just a measure of unit of energy; technically speaking, it’s the energy required to heat one liter of water by one degree centigrade.) But even at rest, your body is always expending energy. How you burn energy or expend calories, which is called the total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), can be organized into three distinct categories:

  1. Basal metabolic rate (BMR; also known as resting metabolic rate, or RMR) is the amount of energy the body uses to support the functions of the organs and physiological systems and comprises approximately 60-75% of TDEE. The three organs most responsible for burning calories at rest are the liver, brain, and skeletal muscle, which burn 27, 19 and 18 percent of the RMR, respectively. It’s worth noting the brain alone uses about one-fifth of your RMR, which helps explain why you don’t think as clearly when you’re hungry.
  2. The thermic effect of food (TEF) is the energy the body uses to convert the food into more energy or to move it to a location to be stored (as fat) for use at a later time, and makes up about 10% of daily energy expenditure.
  3. The thermic effect of physical activity (TEPA) accounts for the remaining energy expenditure—about 15-30% of daily energy output. Included in this number is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which is the amount of energy the body burns after exercise to return to its normal state.

When it comes to TEPA, there are two different types of activity: planned exercise and the spontaneous non-exercise activities that occur every time you perform some sort of physical exertion, such as standing up from a seated position or running to catch the bus. While exercise is an important form of physical activity that can burn hundreds of calories at a time, other forms of physical activity, called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), can play a significant role in helping to maximize the total amount of calories burned in a single day.

Here are six things to know about NEAT and how it can help you reach your health and weight-loss goals:

  1. Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is an enzyme that plays a critical role in converting fat into energy. Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can reduce levels of LPL. Conversely, using NEAT to move consistently throughout the day can help sustain LPL levels and help the body maintain its ability to burn fat.
  2. Standing can make a difference. A growing body of evidence shows that sitting still for too long can be hazardous to your health. Simply standing is one form of NEAT that can help increase your daily caloric expenditure.
  3. Daily steps add up. The U.S. Department of Health has been promoting 10,000 steps a day as an achievable goal for daily physical activity. Even if you don’t make it to 10,000 steps, adding extra steps to your day is an important component of NEAT that can burn calories, while adding health-promoting activity to your life.
  4. Walk or cycle for transportation. Have you ever been stuck in traffic during your commute and thought, “There has got to be a better way?” By choosing to walk or ride a bicycle for your daily commute, you can burn significant amounts of energy during an activity where most people spend their time sitting. If you take a bus or train as part of your commute, getting off a stop or two early provides a great opportunity for some extra walking. Most errands are run in close proximity to home, so when you need to make that quick run for baking supplies, and time allows, walking to your destination is a great way to increase your NEAT.
  5. There is cleaning and then there is getting-ready-to-host-a-party or have-your-mother-in-law-over-for-dinner cleaning—we all know the difference. Doing additional tasks around the house or putting a little extra effort into your daily chores can be a great opportunity to increase daily NEAT.
  6. Play with your kids. In this modern era of having an app for everything, there is no app for spending extra time with your kids. If you can carve out even a few minutes for playing catch, kicking a ball or walking down to your neighborhood park, you will be spending precious time with your offspring while racking up NEAT. An additional benefit to playing is that it can also help boost neural activity and cognition, so not only are you burning a few more calories, you could actually be increasing your brain function as well.

If losing weight is your primary reason for exercising, NEAT is an essential component of that objective. One pound of body fat can provide approximately 3,500 calories worth of energy. Increasing NEAT by 200 calories (about the equivalent of walking two miles), while also making healthier nutritional choices to reduce caloric intake by 300 calories (the equivalent of a 12-ounce soda and a small bag of potato chips) equals about five hundred fewer calories a day. If you do that seven days a week, you will quickly reach the amount of calories necessary to eliminate a pound of fat. While seemingly small, making the effort to change your daily habits by adding more NEAT along with reducing overall caloric intake creates a foundation for long-lasting weight-loss success.

Try To Move More

If you have a desk job or collapse on the couch as soon as you get home, train yourself to just get up more (even if it’s to walk the dog or playing with your children) — it could help you live longer. People who stand fewer than three hours a day live around three years longer than more sedentary peers. Sitting for extended periods of time has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Getting up hourly and walking to the restroom, getting a refill of water, or standing up to stretch can decrease stiffness, boost energy, and burn calories. Also, when watching TV, during every commercial break get up and move. Do a few stretches, walk around the house, or bust out a few bicep curls. All are easy exercises for beginners.

Get a Pedometer

To gauge how much moving you currently do and then motivate yourself to do more. suggests buying a pedometer, an inexpensive gadget that clips on a belt and counts steps for you. Wear it all the time to track both at-work and at-home exercises. There’s nothing like having a running tally of your steps per day staring at you from your waistband to make you want to move more.

Add in Steps

Now that you have your pedometer, one of the best N.E.A.T exercises for beginners is to find creative ways to increase steps every day. You can easily add movement to almost every daily activity. Park at the far end of the parking lot or get off the subway or bus a stop early. Extra steps add up to significant calories over time. And that makes them easy exercises for weight loss.

Pace and Fidget

You probably try to avoid both of these moves to keep from looking irritable or nervous, but they’re easy exercises for weight loss. Pacing rather than standing still and fidgeting rather than sitting still will burn more calories and are prime examples of N.E.A.T in action. Pace when talking on the phone. Use talking on the phone as a cue to stand up and start pacing or just shifting your weight from one foot to the other. Stand up and stretch every time you hit ‘send’ on an e-mail.

Carry Your Groceries

Combine strength training and errands on your next trip to the store: If you live within walking distance of your market, see whether you can carry groceries in your arms rather than a cart. If you have to drive, turn to unloading the car into an at-home exercise, and add a few bicep curls every time you lift a bag out of the trunk.

Take Advantage of Sitting

N.E.A.T at-home exercises done while you’re sitting can provide you with some great strength training exercise for beginners. Raising one’s heels while seated is an excellent option for working out the muscles in the lower leg. Place a large book on the knees while raising the heels to provide more resistance and an even bigger boost in caloric expenditure.

Burning Calories With Everyday Activities

If the thought of working up a sweat on the treadmill at the gym to burn calories doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll be happy to know that you can burn plenty of calories just by doing everyday activities. Research shows that people who are physically active during the day can burn an extra 300 calories per day. Over 12 days, that can add up to an extra pound of weight loss.

Burning Calories: The “NEAT” Way

Extra 300 calories per day can come from what is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or N.E.A.T, which accounts for the energy that you expend when you are not sleeping, eating, or doing structured physical activities like jogging or sports. N.E.A.T activities include things like walking or riding a bike for transportation, typing on the computer, working in the yard, and cleaning the house. Even fidgeting is considered an N.E.A.T activity that can turn up your calorie-burning engine.

These activities help you burn calories by increasing your metabolic rate. This is why agricultural and manual workers tend to have higher metabolic rates than people who live more leisurely lifestyles. In fact, the calories burned through NEAT can differ by as much as 2,000 calories per day between two people who are similar in size.

Burning Calories: Totaling the Burn

“NEAT” calories can really add up — and fast.

30 minutes a person who weighs 150 pounds can burn the following number of calories:

  1. Raking leaves = 147 calories
  2. Gardening or weeding = 153 calories
  3. Moving (packing and unpacking) = 191 calories
  4. Vacuuming = 119 calories
  5. Cleaning the house = 102 calories
  6. Playing with the kids (moderate activity level) = 136 calories
  7. Mowing the lawn = 205 calories
  8. Strolling = 103 calories
  9. Sitting and watching TV = 40 calories
  10. Biking to work (on a flat surface) = 220 calories

Burning Calories: A Little More Every Day

If you are trying to increase the number of calories you burn, make an effort to do more spontaneous physical activities throughout your day. The best way to do this is to reduce the time you spend sitting while adding calorie-burning activities to your daily routine.

 The following can increase your level of calorie-burning throughout the day:

  1. Walk down the hall to see a colleague rather than making a phone call or sending an e-mail.
  2. Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator.
  3. Clean your house instead of using a cleaning service.
  4. Take your dog out for more frequent walks.
  5. Ride your bike or walk to work rather than driving.

Final Thoughts

I wanted to show you that even if you can’t make it to the gym, if you are a stay-at-home-mom or if you just don’t like going to the gym I wanted to show you in today’s post that there are other ways that you can sneak in exercise and you won’t even break a sweat and you burn calories I call that a win-win. If you ever have any questions about today’s post or any past post or just questions, in general, please don’t hesitate in reaching out and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. You can find me with the links I provided in the section (Where You Can Follow Me).

I hope you enjoyed today’s post? If you have any questions about today’s post, any past post or questions, in general, please feel free in reaching out. You can ALWAYS find my email in the “Thank You” section and you can also ALWAYS find all of my social media links in the “Where You Can Follow Me” section.If you or someone you may know is looking for one on one coaching or just looking for advice on how to jump-start a healthy lifestyle or how to stay on track during the holidays you can find all of my links which are ALWAYS provided in the “Thank You” section and in the “Where You Can Follow Me” section.

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Hello, my name Is Amanda and I'm the woman behind AmandaExplainsIt. I'm a Free Spirit, coffee sipping blogger and I embrace all of the messy parts of life.I'm a mommy of two precious doggies and an advocate for food allergies, animals, and nutrition In real life. I've always loved writing and writing a blog fulfills that. I'm all about spirituality and going with the flow of things. I'm new to the beauty world and I'm excited to share what I learn along the way. Come back often because I post often and I post things related to but not limited to Beauty Reviews, Product Reviews, Spirituality, Nutrition and Food Allergies, and Gluten-Free Recipes. If you like what you read let's be friends. ~XOXO A.

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