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Fidget Your Way to Weight Loss? Sounds NEAT

February 26th, 2010

Burn calories without workouts

Some people naturally burn as many as 350 extra calories per day - not because they exercise more and not because they have faster metabolisms. They can do it because of something called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). And the good news is it’s something we can do too.

What the heck is NEAT?
I’ll start with the basics of how we use energy throughout the day. Our basal metabolic rate (BMR) describes the energy expended by our bodies when we are completely at rest. Each of us has an individual BMR that tells us how many calories our bodies need just to perform the most basic functions.

After that energy is used to digest, absorb and store food, which is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). Finally our bodies expend energy through something called activity thermogenesis, which can be exercise or non-exercise related.

You may be surprised to hear that most people burn fewer calories through exercise than they do through NEAT. That’s because exercise is often a once daily (or less for some people) calorie-burning spurt, while NEAT describes the calories we burn through any sort of activity all day long.

According to the Mayo Clinic people who are very sedentary may only be able to credit NEAT for 15 percent of their total daily energy (calorie) expenditure, while in active individuals it can account for up to 50 percent.

Things that affect your NEAT
Occupation - People with active jobs can burn up to 1,000 calories more per day than those with sedentary jobs. But you’re not a hopeless case if you’ve got a desk job. Get up often to take short walks around the office or walk to a co-worker’s cubicle to give them a message instead of using email. If you’ve got a really great boss, convince them that a standing desk will boost your productivity.
Leisure time - Do you spend most lounging in front of the TV, or are you always moving? I’m not saying you have to go outside for a run, just puttering around your yard or organizing a closet can elevate your daily energy expenditure.
Fidgeting - People with fidgeting habits - whether they gesture with their hands while they talk, bounce a leg while they sit or twirl their hair around a finger - might just have discovered the secret to staying in shape. These people are constantly in motion. Even though it may not seem like much, a day full of fidgeting can really add up.

What you can do to take advantage of NEAT
Since NEAT is a combination of everything you do throughout the day, it’ll take a lot of lifestyle adjusting to get the full benefits, but there are many easy ways to start.
Use a push or manual mower when you’re cutting the lawn
Avoid drive-through windows
Choose stairs over elevators
• If you must watch television do a bit of household tidying at each commercial, and change channels without using the remote.
Get a little restless - If you have the urge to move your hands, feet or other body parts don’t fight it
Laugh out loud, and do it often
Tell great stories - the more wild gestures the better
Stand instead of sitting whenever possible

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