Do you ever feel challenged to get enough movement in? Have you ever wondered how you can increase activity and burn more calories without always having to head to the gym? 

You might be surprised to find out there is a simple way to increase your activity and boost your metabolism in addition to getting in any traditional workouts. This concept is called NEAT and includes all of the activities of daily living that you do on a regular basis. 

Before we get to the details of NEAT, it’s important to understand the breakdown of how we burn calories. If we take a look at the metabolism and energy expenditure, we can group it into four categories. These components equal our total daily energy expenditure or TDEE.

BMR (70% of TDEE) – This is your basal metabolic rate and equals the amount of calories your body burns at rest. 

TEF (10% of TDEE) – Thermic effect of food includes all of the activities that go into how the body consumes and processes food. Chewing, digestion and absorption are a few of the processes included in TEF. 

EAT (5% of TDEE) – Exercise activity thermogenesis is what EAT stands for. This component of TDEE equals all of the more traditional exercise you do such as weight lifting, running, boot camp classes, Barre and spin class.

NEAT (15% of TDEE) – NEAT is the acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. According to ACE Fitness, “While exercise is an important form of physical activity that can burn hundreds of calories at a time, other forms of physical activity, called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), can play a significant role in helping to maximize the total amount of calories burned in a single day.” Activities of daily living that don’t include sleeping, eating or physical exercise are what makes up your NEAT. 

At 15% of your total daily energy expenditure, it’s clear to see how NEAT can play a key role in your daily movement and help increase your calorie burning efforts. Keep in mind that these activities don’t have to be vigorous to count. Many of them may feel like a small amount of movement but they have the potential to add up over time. 

What’s even better is that NEAT can be increased within the pockets of your day and doesn’t require a ton of effort or planning. Here is a list of some of my favorite ways to increase NEAT.

20 Ways To Increase Your NEAT

Park in the parking space furthest away from the building. This is a simple, yet easy way to get in more steps. For the sake of moving your body and burning a few extra calories, consider parking further away from the building rather than in the spot that’s right up front. 

Take the stairs. You’ve probably heard this one before. Taking the stairs is not only a great way to get in extra movement, but it can also help strengthen your lower body. 

Walk to your destination. Walk rather than ride. Whether you’re walking to meet a friend for coffee, heading to the grocery store or walking to work, these are some ideas to increase movement if your area allows for it. 

Take a walk around your indoor space. Whether you’re at home or working in a physical location, get up once an hour or every few hours and take a walk around. This is a great opportunity to move, take a mental break and maybe even refresh your water bottle. 

Stand. Many of us sit quite a bit for one reason or another. Standing is a fantastic way to increase energy expenditure by just getting up. Get creative! You don’t have to stand all day but little increments on your feet can add up big time. 

Play with your kids. Run around and have a little fun with your kids! Play a game of tag, teach them to ride bikes, go fishing or play a board game. 

Get active with your pets. Taking the dog for a walk, grooming your horse or playing a creative game of chase with your cat are all wonderful ways to connect with your animal while moving more. 

Host a game night. Indoors or outdoors, host a party that revolves around active games such as cornhole, charades or Pictionary.

Take advantage of your area. Become a tourist in your own city. Go visit a museum you’ve never been to, tour a historic home, head to the zoo or plan a nature walk with friends or family. 

Hobbies. Hobbies are fantastic ways to keep active. Whether you are doing a puzzle at the kitchen table, painting on a canvas or doing pottery, hobbies not only teach you a skill but also keep you active in some way. 

Fidget. Tapping the table with your fingers, adjusting your posture and moving your feet while seated are small movements, yet they beat being totally still any day. 

Cook your meals. Making your own meals at home is another way to increase your activity and even sharpen your kitchen skills. Cooking with friends, a partner or family members can be a wonderful way to create connection in addition to upping your activity. 

Tend to your garden or plants. Whether you have a tiny garden or a small farm, tending to your plants is another great way to shake up your movement a little. Watering indoor and outdoor plants, pruning leaves, digging, fertilizing and picking produce or flowers are all great options. 

Yard work. Cut the lawn, shovel snow, rake the leaves or freshen up the mulch. Now there’s a reason not to put off your seasonal yard plans! Jump into those projects so you can get your body moving. 

House cleaning. It feels like there is always something to clean or tidy up. Grab the vacuum, sweep the floors, clean countertops, dust, tackle the bathrooms, make beds or freshen up throw pillows.

Home improvement. You know the room that you’ve been wanting to repaint forever? Paint it! Clean out closets, rearrange furniture and hang paintings on the wall. All of these activities, big or small, add up.

Run errands. Tackle your weekly “to do” list. You can increase NEAT with weekly chores like grocery shopping, heading to the pharmacy or dropping your packages off at the post office. 

Take your phone call on your feet. Whether talking to a friend or on a work call, try standing or walking when appropriate. 

Walking Meditation. As a way to satisfy both mindfulness and movement, incorporating intentional walks while doing breathing exercises or while outside in nature can help increase your NEAT and boost your immunity.

Take a stretch break. Feeling tight and achy? Take a few minutes to stretch it out and break up your day. 

Get Creative

Increasing your NEAT can be a simple and effective way to expand your daily movement and energy output. How you increase your NEAT depends on your lifestyle and the options that are available for you. Ready to brainstorm? Grab a pen and paper or jot a note on your phone and list all of the ways you can get active without actually working out. You might come up with some pretty fun ways to increase your own movement. 

Photo by Chewy on Unsplash