NEAT – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
Now, it sounds complicated, but all it really means is energy that you burn doing your daily activities that aren’t exercise related. This could be walking the dog, doing the gardening, fidgeting at your desk when you’re flicking your foot back and forth. All these little things contribute to energy expenditure, and it’s actually a lot more than what you would think. Around 10 to 15% of your daily calories are expended through NEAT.
If you’re in a caloric deficit, you’ll find that as your calories drop, your NEAT will decrease. Your body wants to conserve energy so it goes into a state of scarcity. If you’re in a deficit, it doesn’t know if it’s going to be receiving any energy, so it starts to down-regulate your energy expenditure. It doesn’t want you moving around or fidgeting because it’s main function is to survive.
Aiming for around 7,000 steps per day is a great way to increase your NEAT and your daily energy expenditure. You can monitor this by purchasing a Fitbit or even just using the health app on your smartphone. Although these are not 100% accurate, they still give you somewhat of a baseline to work from.
We like to suggest that 7,000 steps per day as an absolute minimum. If you don’t do any kind of exercise, strength training, play any sport, or do anything other than your NEAT, then we suggest to bump your goal up to 10,000 steps as a minimum requirement. This equates to around and hour and a half of exercise per day.
It’s also a great opportunity for you to partner up with your friends, spouse or even the dog and spend some time together. It will give you an opportunity to be away from your phone or computer and to really communicate with other people.
It can also be a great way to have a bit of friendly competition with some friends. If you’ve both got a Fitbit you can see how many steps they’ve done in their day. Make it a bit of a race, who’s gonna get there first. Have you done your steps for the day? Stay on each other’s back and keep each other accountable.
By adopting this as a regular habit, not only will it contribute to your weight loss, if that’s your goal, but also your overall health. You may not feel like training one day, at least get out and have a walk. If you’re at work, take the stairs. Park on the other side of the car park and walk instead of parking as close as you can.
Don’t overcomplicate NEAT. It’s really just moving around. Focus on getting in your daily steps. You may find that you can get a thousand steps in the first time. Don’t worry about it. Build up off that. Start at a thousand steps a day. Work up to 1500, and then just over time before you know it you’ll be at 7,000.