That's totally NEAT dude...
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving” Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Industrialisation and technology has produced an increase in overweight adults and children, along with what is now referred to as the obesity epidemic. Research has shown a dramatic decrease in physical activity at home, in the work place and in free time since the increase of technology in our ever-developing world (Prentice, 2006). Advances in technology such as transportation, washing machines and dryers, computers and video games, and online shopping have caused peoples’ day-to-day and leisure activities to be less energy demanding.
NEAT= Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis
NEAT plays an important role in your daily energy expenditure. Levine (2002) describes NEAT as anything that you do that is not sleeping, eating or pre determined exercise. NEAT represents activities such as fidgeting, walking from the car to the shops/work, standing at your desk, taking the stairs, typing etc. Studies have shown that agricultural and manual workers have a higher NEAT than industrialised (office) workers. According Levine (2002) NEAT plays an important role in maintaining, losing and gaining bodyweight.
Overeating calories and physical inactivity are the main components of obesity (fat gain) (Vilablana et al, 2015).
Let’s face it, in this day and age we are all busier than ever and every minute of everyday is already accounted for. If you are reading this blog you probably (hopefully) have sometime each week set aside for your ‘exercise’ sessions. However with demanding jobs, children, partners and day-to-day chores ‘exercise’ is usually the 1st thing to get bumped when the pressure piles on. From my experience during these colder and darker months ‘exercise’ sometimes takes a back seat. Now, not for one minute am I advocating this. In my opinion there is no need for exercise to be bumped or to take a back seat. If you manage your time effectively and book your ‘exercise’ sessions in you are much more likely to stick to them. You know that old saying…. “you wouldn’t cancel on your boss so don’t cancel on yourself”. You will find if you make ‘exercise’ a priority your energy levels will increase, your brain will function more optimally, you are more likely to make better choices with food and you won’t undo the rest of the year’s hard work. HOWEVER with all that being said, I do completely understand that you are only human and there are times when exercise just wont be top of your to do list.
So what can you do to prevent fat gain when you have to bump exercise…INCREASE your NEAT.
NEAT can also be super helpful when fat loss stalls. If you are eating a calorie-controlled diet and exercising frequently but find that you have hit a bit of a plateau then don’t freak out. When dieting your body will naturally ‘slow you down’ with regards to fidgeting and general day-to-day activities as a way of preserving energy. So before you ‘throw the towel in’ and claim your diet and exercise program isn’t working try increasing your NEAT. Of course if you increase your NEAT and still find you are ‘stuck’ this is when you may need to look at upping your physical exercise a little more maybe an extra cardio session or/and lowering your calorie intake a little. Start with the small changes 1st. Remember any habits and changes need to be REALISTIC and SUSTAINABLE!
Here are a few handing hints and tips for increasing your NEAT.
Take the stairs instead of the lift
Walk on the escalators instead of standing still
Get off the tube/bus 1 stop early and walk
Walk to work instead of driving (not possible for everyone I know)
Walk the children to school instead of driving them…even if it is raining!!!!
Whack your house workout out, put some music on and get that vacuuming done in record time
Take the children to the park for a run around and wear your gym kit, you are more likely to get involved if you are in clothes you don’t mind getting hot and sweaty in
Go for a 10 min walk in your lunch break
Stand at your desk
Buy yourself a pedometer (or use your smart phone, fit bit, up band etc) and set yourself a daily steps target.
We spend far too much time ‘sitting’ in this day and age, get up and get moving even if it is just for an extra 10 minutes a day.
References and Resources
Prentice, A. M.
2006 The emerging epidemic of obesity in developing countries. International journal of epidemiology 35(1):93-9.