Before our daughter I’d never heard of the acronym N.E.A.T..
I was active.
I worked out.
Even working full-time I had hours at my disposal to do with what I pleased.
I hadn’t heard of the acronym and most likely would have scoffed at the concept had I stumbled upon it.
Exercise, in my mind, needed to be focused, sweaty and completed in stints of a minimum of thirty minutes at a time.
Flash forward a few years and I now live each day with a N.E.A.T. backdrop.
As a working mother, wife, sister, friend and volunteer I’ve learned the importance of seizing N.E.A.T.ness in any form I can.
I credit it for my ability to remain functionally fit with minimal time invested in traditional exercise.
I’m busy. I travel for work. I do what I can. And I’m grateful I have N.E.A.T to help me take care of the rest.
Is your curiosity piqued? Allow me to clarify what I’m talking about.
N.E.A.T. is defined as non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
Essentially, the acronym refers to energy expended during activity (fidgeting to shopping) that’s not specifically exercise.
I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say N.E.A.T. has been my fitness-savior.
It’s taught me my body really doesn’t know the difference between walking on a treadmill and pacing during a conference call.
It’s shown me the strength I gain through grocery hauling and dog–hoisting is pretty comparable to what I used to gain in the gym (I know. I was shocked, too.).
In addition, since sitting has been deemed the new smoking, the fact I’ve converted much of my sedentary time into movement could also lengthen my lifespan.
Sure in a perfect world Id have time to do all I need to and fit in traditional workouts, but these days that’s not happening.
Thankfully studies (and my experience) show taking advantage of N.E.A.T can burn up to 500 extra calories per day and, more importantly in my opinion, result in a fitter, stronger you.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to squeeze N.E.A.T. into my day.
- Buy a pedometer. I selected a basic, inexpensive basic model. Something that only counted my steps. Not only did I find the numbers motivating, I discovered the slight pressure of the pedometer on my waistband reminded me to get up and walk. Phone calls and brainstorming sessions for work are all easily done in motion, too.
- Isometric ab contractions. Sometimes life dictates I sit still and work. During those long stretches I find both activity and stress reduction through tightening and releasing my core. I also have friends who swear isometric ab contraction is their secret to core strength and six pack abs. Whether this is true or not is debatable, but I’ve definitely found it helps me remember to keep my core contracted throughout my day.
- I lunge. Everywhere. I lunge across parking lots. I lunge as I clean the house. I lunge (we call it silly walking) at the park with my daughter. You will never find me lunging as part of a formal workout (can’t stand them)—but when N.E.A.T.ing I’m a fitting-them-in machine.
- I’m a N.E.A.T. cook. I don’t love to spend time in the kitchen. I’d rather be with the ones I love than separated preparing food for them. It’s just who I am. Now, when I grow impatient waiting for water to boil or salmon to poach, I N.E.A.T. I turn on music and dance. I do calf raises in place after I’ve retrieved the colander from the shelf. The kitchen offers myriad ways to fit in fitness when we’re willing to get N.E.A.T.-creative.
- I shift sedentary into active. I love to watch recorded television. Now, instead of skipping all the commercials, I’ll use a few for movement bursts. Two minutes of planks? 4 sets of push-ups? A minute of jump rope or hula hooping? These all fit perfectly into commercial time. I also drag friends along for the N.E.A.T. ride. I love book groups. I wish I possessed more motivation to walk outside. The two mixed together (our walking book club) is a perfect N.E.A.T. combo for busy book lovers.
Whatever you choose to call it—-N.E.A.T., constant motion, viewing your day through the lens of movement— the result is burning daily calories in a manner that fits fitness into any schedule.
What sedentary daily activities could you turn into N.E.A.T.?
How are you already incorporating the idea of N.E.A.T. into your busy day?