What is NEAT and Why It’s Important

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Every week, our clients report their workout efforts to us with concerns about their progress..

  •  “I ran a mile every day this week!” 
  • “I did 3 HIIT workouts and lifted weights!” 
  • “I did 45 min daily cardio and 5 CrossFit workouts!”
  • “Why am I not seeing the results I want? Do I need to workout more?!”

While we applaud and encourage these fitness efforts, the big question we ask when women express the desire to do more high-intensity workouts for better results is, “What does the other  23 hours of the day look like?”

Activity level over the whole course of the entire day makes a BIG difference. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), is the energy you use for anything that is not exercise, sleeping or eating.  It ranges from yard work to walking in a store to fidgeting at your desk. 

NEAT is not a replacement for exercise, but it plays a key role in a persons metabolism and body composition. People that get higher levels of NEAT through being more active tend to weigh less or have less body fat than those that are more sedentary and get less NEAT.  Some studies show you can burn an additional 300+ calories over the course of the day just increasing your daily NEAT effort. This is just “icing on the macro cake” as you work toward your goals of improved body composition!

A person’s NEAT can be cyclic with different times of the year, (Spring vs. Winter) or times of the week (weekday vs. weekend). It is important to try to be as consistent with your NEAT levels as it is with your nutrition and regular exercise! 

A common way to measure the level of NEAT that you are getting is through tracking your daily steps.  We encourage our clients to shoot for the sweet spot of 10,000 steps daily! Steps can be tracked with a variety of devices from Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, cell phones, Whoop band or even a simple pedometer. When tracking your steps, we do not recommend that you add back in the calories your preferred device reports that you burn. 

Start working on your NEAT goal by getting a few days baseline to see your average daily step count. From there, make a goal to work your way toward that 10,000 step mark over time until it is a habit!

Some easy ways to up your step count include:

  • Parking your car at the back of the Grocery store lot when shopping.
  • Morning/evening walks with the Dog or kids.
  • Taking the stairs vs the elevator.
  • Walk during your schedule lunch break or take a lap during potty breaks at work. 

The list goes on… it just takes an effort and being intentional to move your body more!

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