“Hey Google,” I ask, “What’s NEAT?” To my surprise she answers with a legitimate response. Citing an article from PUB-Med, the Google Home explains that Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.) is the energy we burn throughout the day that is not direct exercise, sleeping, or eating. So basically, the energy I would have expended by typing it into a search engine rather than asking the phantom voice that lives in the corner of my kitchen.
Pandemic aside, we are slowly working our way towards moving as little as possible. Google Home and Alexa make it possible to get answers for all of our questions without having to move more than our lips. Roomba vacuums clear our floors so we can stay on the couch. UberEats makes it so the only effort we have to put into getting a meal is walking to our door (and back to the couch, of course.) With your hand sanitizer wipes ready, you don’t even need to go to the sink to wash your hands before eating.
Since the invention of the wheel, we have been designing our lives to require less and less work. It all impacts the ways we are using our bodies. We have been cutting back on our N.E.A.T.
Oh, you hit the gym for an hour every other day? Or go for a daily walk? That’s wonderful; it really is. However, do you also sit at a desk for eight hours a day? There are 168 hours in a week; how many of them are you moving? With the pandemic and a large majority of us working from home, we aren’t even walking to our cars or from our cars to the office building. That hurts us.
So many of us are living sedentary lives, but there are small changes we can make to help us keep moving, which gets our N.E.A.T. heading in the right direction. This helps with weight loss and keeping off weight gain.
So What Can You Do?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the stand-up desk craze. As much of a gimmick as they might seem, it is undeniably true that while standing we are burning more calories and energy than sitting in a nice plush chair. That little extra burn can help prevent weight gain and assist with heart health.
Rather than searching for the closest parking spot at the store, choose the one a little further back. You’re less likely to get your door dinged, and you’re going to be using your body a little more. Instead of going straight for what you need, do a lap around the store.
If you have an Apple watch, you might get that hourly ding telling you to stand, and you should heed this advice. Sitting for hours straight is going to undo any progress you made on that 30 minute walk or hour at the gym.
Just be more conscious of how little you’re moving throughout the day, and then do a little more; pace around the office, do a bit of stretching, or even go outside for a moment. Even daily chores like washing dishes or vacuuming the floor helps. Tomorrow, try going into the coffee shop rather than the drive thru; it could really be a difference that saves your life. Now, that’s NEAT.