Due to lockdown, our usually active and healthy lifestyles have spiralled into a life devoid of any meaningful activity.
While most of us still get our bodyweight or band workout in every day, it’s hardly enough to counter the hours spent sitting at your makeshift work station or lying on the couch.
What we really need is to start burning more calories and boost activity levels. And the best way to do that is to become a NEAT freak.
Light activity, huge impact
Science has proven that non-exercise activities we do (or at least did before a life confined to our homes) can actually burn an extra 1,500 to 2,400 calories a day.
In his book ‘Move a Little, Lose a Lot’, endocrinologist James Levine writes that we are actually being robbed of burning these additional calories because we are unaware of NEAT, a component of physical activity, metabolic regulation and total daily expenditure.
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which sounds complicated but it is not. Also known as non-exercise physical activity, or NEPA, it is the calories (energy) you burn simply living your life.
NEAT accounts the energy expenditure caused by the non-exercise-related movements you engage in throughout the day.
This includes activities such as walking to lunch, pacing while on a cellphone, climbing stairs, standing while talking to a colleague, and even washing the car or doing the dishes.
While these are usually classified as incidental activities that happen as part of the normal course of daily life, we need to introduce them as intentional activities while in lockdown.
So whether you take a literal approach and become a NEAT freak by cleaning your house every day, or take a more figurative approach by scheduling an extra hour of walking or gardening each day, the aim is the same – move more and move more often!
Revving up NEAT with basic daily activities might not sound like much, but cumulatively it all adds up and will complement the fat-burning measures of your current lockdown training and diet approach.
The best is to use all the opportunities you are aware of to move more than you already do in your day-to-day activities, or find new ways to introduce more movement.
“Research proves that daily NEAT activity burns more calories than a half hour running on the treadmill. You can burn additional calories if you do more walking, standing and moving around. NEAT can also boost your metabolism, lower your blood pressure and increase your mental clarity.
If people simply convert sedentary television time to active time, they could lose 50 pounds (22,5kg) a year,” explains Levine.
5 ways to ramp up NEAT during lockdown
- Walk around the house while you are on a phone call. Or, even better, walk outside!
- Clean a different room every day with some vacuuming and sweeping to get the heart rate up.
- Take regular breaks from your desk with 10 minute-walks in the garden.
- Record work info or study material and listen to it while taking a walk.
- Perform yoga, mobility or core work while watching your usual TV shows in the evening.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.