Find NEAT ways to burn calories with everyday activities

(Daily Record/Sunday News -- Chris Dunn)

NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, accounts for the calories we burn during everyday activities such as housework, gardening and moving. Think about how you can become more active with non-exercise-specific activities to burn more calories and stay fit. (Daily Record/Sunday News — Chris Dunn)

During the summer at the Byrnes Health Education Center, we don’t do as much teaching because schools are on summer break. That means a big change of pace in my work day. During the school year, I’m on my feet, moving around, going in and out of schools, while teaching multiple programs a day. I love it. But then, during most of the summer, I transition to sitting at my desk for hours on end staring at a computer. There is a big difference in the amount of calories that my body burns during those two times of the year.

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, are calories that we burn on-the-job, at leisure, and even by fidgeting. It accounts for pretty much every calorie our bodies burn except for when we are sleeping and when we are performing intense exercise, such as jogging, aerobics and power walking.

We don’t always have to be at the gym, running on a treadmill, or participating in a sport or an exercise class to burn the calories needed for weight management. Studies show that highly active jobs can have NEAT values of 1,000 calories per day. Now, of course, we might not be able to control what our job is, what environment we live and work in, and what our circumstances of life are. But we are in control of our attitudes and how we choose to go about our everyday tasks.

So let’s get practical. What are some ways that you can get your NEAT on? Well, the first thing to do, since we are all different, is to take a good look at your life and analyze what you do everyday. When are you sedentary and when are you active? What activities and tasks do you perform most often? Then, you can start to make some subtle — or drastic — changes in how you go about your day.

Find NEAT ways to be active at home. Laundry, cleaning, extra trips up and down stairs, get off of the couch, etc.

Find NEAT ways to be active outside. Work in the yard, start a garden or compost pile, shovel snow, rake leaves, etc.

Find NEAT ways to be active around town. Walk or bike to the store, park farther away from the store, park and walk instead of using the drive-thru, etc.

We can always find ways to increase our NEAT if we take every opportunity to move and embrace a “keep moving” mindset. So think about it. How can you increase your NEAT? Let’s decide to get moving today and everyday.

Stay Active, Stay Healthy.

About Sean Hermanns

I am a health educator for the Byrnes Health Education Center in York city and I am also a personal fitness trainer at the Athletic club of York. Educating and inspiring people to make healthy choices is my passion and I am grateful for any opportunity to bless others.
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