The importance of increasing your NEAT

You may think that the easiest way to burn a large amount of calories is to head to the gym, but what if I was to tell you that increasing your non-exercise activity throughout the day can be an even better way to increase your calorie expenditure?

Let me explain...

Each and every day our body expends a certain amount of energy, this is known as our Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and it does this as follows...

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate - the amount of calories your body expends just to function and stay alive (this equates to around 70% of your daily total)

  2. Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) - the amount of calories expended for activity that is not planned (this equates to around 15% of your daily total)

  3. Thermogenic Effect Of Food (TEF) - the amount of calories expended to digest and process your food intake (this equates to around 10% of your daily total)

  4. Exercise Activity Thermogenesis - the amount of calories expended during planned exercise i.e. going to the gym (this equates to around 5% of your daily total)

As you can see, your body actually expends a greater amount of calories throughout the day via Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) than it does via Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT). This is due to everyday tasks such as standing up, fidgeting, walking around the house, cleaning etc. These tasks are done regularly over a longer period of your day, whereas a trip to the gym may only make up 30 minutes to 1 hour of it, resulting in fewer calories expended than you actually think.

A great way to increase your NEAT is by increasing your step count throughout the day. I am a huge advocate of fitness trackers in the form of smart watches (Fitbit's/Apple/Garmin). These encourage you to move more throughout the day, keeping you active and helping to increase your NEAT.

Not only this, but moving more can also help to enhance cardiovascular fitness, improve mood and lower anxiety levels.

Being able to move more throughout the day might be easier said than done for some of you but may pose more of a struggle for those with more sedentary jobs.

Here are a few tips to help you increase your NEAT throughout the day...

1. Schedule an early morning walk

2. Park your car further away from the entrance to where you are going

3. Take the stairs rather than the lift

4. Move when doing everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth, hanging laundry etc.

5. Using public transport? Get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way

6. Set an hourly alarm on your smart watch as a prompt to get up and move

7. Start a competition with a friend/family member to push you on

8. Leave your desk for lunch and get outdoors for 30 minutes

9. Move on the spot when taking phone calls

10. Make multiple trips. Carrying all of your shopping in one trip? Save your arms and get your steps up by making extra trips back and forth to the car

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