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  • Writer's pictureRachel Gargano

NEAT: Burn more calories without breaking a sweat

by ADMIN on AUGUST 10, 2011

That’s right, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is an easy way to help maintain a healthy weight.

NEAT accounts for much of the movements you make during the day – walking, standing, pacing, cleaning the house, cooking, climbing stairs, and folding laundry – yet doesn’t include actual ‘exercise’. Even seemingly trivial movements such as fidgeting contribute to our NEAT.

The more ‘movements’ you make during the day, the more calories you burn. Whereas if you sit all day, you’re more likely to store calories eaten rather than burn them.

We sit too much

Our society today is packed with “sitters”.

Technology has made it quite easy to simply sit all day with minimal effort or activity. The remote control allows us to sit while changing the channel, cell phones allow us to stay put while making a call, escalators take the work out of stair climbing, online shopping has taken the walking out of malls, and our long hours of working sit us in front of computers and desks for 8 plus hours at a time.

Studies show that our sedentary lifestyle may lead to some major health risks above and beyond obesity. Sitting for prolonged periods can increase your risk for developing heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and increases risk for all-cause mortality.

The couch potato athlete

Interestingly enough, there are even athletes who work out every day who can be considered ‘sitters’ – they’re called Couch Potato Athletes.

These are people who work out every day but who sit for the majority of the time otherwise. This behavior still puts them in a slightly higher risk group. And it’s scary to admit that many of us might fall into this group.

Increase your NEAT and reverse your Sitting!

By simply moving around more during the day – or even just standing – we can not only burn more calories, but also help prevent all those expensive diseases in the future.

Tips on how to increase your NEAT while Sitting Less

Stand at your desk

Purchase a small table (or a mini laptop desk) for your key board, raise your computer screen up, and stand for periods of time while working. This can even be great for your back, shoulders, and legs – helping to prevent cramping, slouching, and other stresses.

Take short walking or stretching breaks throughout the day

Every 45 minutes to an hour, get up and take a short 5 minute walk. This will not only help stretch your legs and back, but also help you refocus on your work with renewed energy.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator

You’ve heard this one before, but it’s such an easy switch to make, especially if it’s only a few flights up or down – why not start now?!

If your calling a co-worker down the hall – get up and walk to them instead

Again, will help you stretch and refocus.

Take 15 minutes for a nice, brisk walk after work

This is especially good to do if you don’t have time for a full workout at night. Not only is this a great way to help unwind from the day, but it could also be a great excursion for the whole family (and your dog will love it too!).

Pace while your on the phone

Moving while talking helps get the blood AND conversation flowing!

Goal: Aim for about 10 minutes of NEAT per hour.

By incorporating some of these ideas into your day, you could burn as much as an extra 500 calories per day. That’s pretty significant!

Of course there are other factors that go into becoming or maintaining your happy weight: Eating and drinking the amount of calories your body needs to support healthy functioning, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management.

Yet NEAT is something easy to include in your everyday life, and can even help prevent disease.


  1. Gao W, Sanna M, Chen Y, Tsai M, Wen C. Occupational Sitting Time, Leisure Physical Activity, and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(1):e2350680. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.50680

  2. Weiler R, Aggio D, Hamer M, Taylor T, Kumar B. Sedentary behaviour among elite professional footballers: health and performance implications. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2015;1(1):e000023. Published 2015 Jul 17. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2015-000023

  3. Kulinski J, Khera A, Ayers C, et al. Association Between Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Accelerometer-Derived Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in the General Population. Mayo Clinic Preceedings. August 2014. 89(9):1063-1071.

  4. Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Dec;16(4):679-702. doi: 10.1053/beem.2002.0227. PMID: 12468415.


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