Intentional exercise, such as going to the gym or doing a home workout, is important.
However, NEAT movements have recently been making headlines—and this type of movement might actually be more important than hitting the gym.
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
These types of movements include a variety of activities outside of sleep, sports-related exercise, and eating. For example, the walking you do around your office is a form of NEAT. Even fidgeting or performing chores, like vacuuming or gardening, fall under the category of NEAT movements.
In fact, all of these movements add up throughout your day! They can actually make a huge difference in your overall caloric expenditure, helping promote a healthy weight and facilitating healthy blood flow throughout the body.
NEAT doesn’t just mean more caloric burn. It also contributes to greater overall health and well-being, and it does this in a few ways.
Experts claim that NEAT movements can actually lower one’s risk of:
Basically, it helps combat all the negative repercussions attached to a sedentary lifestyle. In turn, you’re more likely to live longer and have an improved health span as a result.
If you think about it, evolution hasn’t come all that far in the last few hundred or even thousands of years. In fact, we aren’t that genetically different from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who definitely got way more daily movement than a modern human does.
All of this is to say that the human body thrives off movement.
For example, walking, a type of NEAT movement, helps improve insulin sensitivity and improves the movement of food through your digestive tract. All around, this leads to better energy and enhanced digestion.
NEAT also helps:
When the pandemic hit, inevitably, many of us started moving even less. We didn’t have to walk as far or move as much to get to the “office,” with many of us working from home. It also wasn’t like we were meeting up with friends for a quick walk. In reality, most of us were straight-up scared to leave our homes.
It’s safe to say this probably had a much bigger impact on our health than we realize. Many people gained weight during this time, likely due to a lack of NEAT movements and due to treating ourselves to the various deliciousness of various foods (I mean, we had to have something to look forward to during our days!).
Perhaps this is why, as of late, NEAT is creating noise in the health community. We need these little bits of movement to thrive and not just survive!
NEAT movements actually account for a higher energy expenditure than planned exercise, such as lifting weights.
So, does this mean it's better for you?
Well, both have their benefits!
Lifting weights and other types of intentional gym workouts (or sports workouts) tend to build lean muscle mass, which contributes to better metabolic health and a higher caloric burn each day. However, you don’t really burn that many calories during a weight workout or light sports activity.
Yet, with NEAT movements, these are sprinkled throughout your day, which adds up to hours of your time and many calories burned.
So the bottom line? Both matter and you want to intentionally work on getting adequate bits of NEAT and exercise movements into your weekly routine.
Related Article: 7 Easy At-Home Exercises That Require Next-to-Zero Effort or Thought
There are so many ways to do this!
In fact, let this be the motivation you need to get those chores checked off your to-do list (since they count as NEAT movements!). Here is a basic list of NEAT movements (however, there are many more than what is listed below):
Basically, NEAT movements are free, easy for anyone to do, and they require zero equipment. NEAT is actually what is behind the magic of the “10,000 steps a day” phenomenon. In fact, getting a step counter can ensure you are getting enough of that daily NEAT movement.
You can get more NEAT movements in your day by:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn
Next time you think about putting off doing that household task, just think: You’ll be getting more NEAT movements in, so why not?
Use the power of NEAT to improve your physical and mental health. Little movements matter, much more than we think!
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