You're probably familiar with the core principles of weight loss: eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. And while these factors all play a role, there's one concept that's often overlooked when it comes to weight loss: nonexercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.
NEAT refers to any activity that you do throughout the day outside of formal exercise and sleeping. "NEAT is a huge part of the weight-loss puzzle that many people overlook," Eric Bowling, an NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance in Los Angeles who helps clients lose weight, told POPSUGAR. "Your hour in the gym will only contribute so much to your daily energy expenditure; it's what you do in the other 23 hours of your day that has a much bigger impact on your overall energy expenditure."
For people who work more labor-intensive and active jobs — construction workers, personal trainers, restaurant servers — their NEAT is usually sufficient throughout the day. But for the rest of us, who work sedentary jobs where we drive to work and sit at a desk for eight or more hours before driving home and watching TV on the couch, our NEAT is basically nonexistent.
One of the easiest ways to increase NEAT is to get in more steps — aim for 10,000 a day for weight loss. You can track your steps with a Fitbit, Apple Watch, pedometer, or free app on your smartphone. Struggling to get your steps in? Try parking farther away from your destination or getting off a stop or two before your destination on public transportation. Looking for more ways to up your NEAT? Check out this list below, including ideas from Eric.
Examples of NEAT:
- Washing dishes
- DIY projects
- Mowing the lawn
- Raking leaves
- Washing the car
- Playing with your kids
- Taking the dog for a walk
- Going on a hike with a friend
- Walking with your partner after dinner
- Exploring your city
- Carrying groceries back from the store
- Doing a quick bodyweight circuit when you wake up