Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, is a term used to describe the number of calories you burn through daily physical activity in excess of the resting metabolic rate (RMR) and outside a formal exercise regime.
NEAT includes the energy expended maintaining and changing posture (laying, standing, walking, stair climbing, spontaneous muscle contraction, fidgeting, cleaning), singing, and other activities of daily living. These activities do not involve moderate- to vigorous- intensity exercise and occur at a trivial or a low energy workload for minutes to hours. These somewhat unplanned and unstructured low grade physical activities can have a remarkable effect on metabolic rate and, as a result, stimulate greater energy expenditure over time. NEAT can account for up to 15 to 30 percent of your daily calorie expenditure.
NEAT can’t replace the benefits of intense cardio or strength-training workouts. Still, like any physical activity, it has many overall health and fitness benefits.
Almost anything that enables you to expend energy: fidgeting, tapping your foot, doing housework, walking around during your workday—even singing!
While these activities may seem insignificant, they can contribute significantly to your daily calorie burn, fat loss, and resting metabolic rate. Research has shown that people who engage in more NEAT activities benefit in many ways. They have lower rates of obesity, better energy balance, and better insulin sensitivity.
Some NEAT activities:
Make a mental shift in thinking about exercise differently. Of course, consistent, intentional exercise is essential, but incidental movement throughout the day can be a lighter-hearted approach to think about ways to move your body! For example, consider meandering around the neighborhood, yoga in the living room, or a dance party while cooking dinner.
Think of all these things as “joyful movement.”