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  • Clem Duranseaud

10 ways to increase your neat

Updated: Feb 4

10 ways you can burn more calories by increasing your daily NEAT

NEAT stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which refers to the calories burned when you are not exercising. NEAT is, in my opinion, the only way to fast track weight loss.

Table of contents

How many calories do you burn sitting vs standing

When we sit down to work, watch TV, eat or relax, we burn a small amount of calories, between 20-30 (remember that this is all dependent on your age, sex, height and body composition).

Standing, at a bus stop, at a standing desk, not moving around, burns a slightly higher amount of calories, but not much more. From what I've read it's anywhere from 5%-15% more.

Walking on the other hand, burns up to 100%-150% more calories than standing still.

What I want you to remember from this is the importance of not just standing, but moving around.

Why is NEAT important for weight and fat loss

There are 4 ways you burn calories during the day:

  • Thermic effect of food (TEF): digesting food does burn a small amount of calories. We have no control over this mechanism.

  • Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT): calories burnt while exercising. We have a lot of control over this mechanism but we can't do it for very long.

  • Non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): what we burn while not exercising. We have a lot of control over this mechanism and we can do it for very long.

  • Basal metabolic rate: the calories your body burns just to function. Think about keeping your heart beating, regulating body temperature and all brain activity. We have very little control over this mechanism.

Here is a visual representation of how many calories these four mechanisms burn each day.

Now keep in mind that is just an average and is subject to change according to age, sex, body composition and activity levels.

The share of your total daily caloric expenditure between the thermic effect of food, you activity, BMR and NEAT

We have very little control over the TEF and BMR so the two that we should really focus on are EAT and NEAT.

EAT has a limited application, there's only so much we can exercise throughout the day.

NEAT on the other hand is more about our habits and lifestyle. It's the choices we make on a day to day basis that has the potential to drastically increase the amount of calories we burn.

Now let's take a look at a few strategies you can use to increase your daily NEAT

10 ways to increase NEAT

1. Schedule regular walking breaks

Look at your day ahead. When can you sneak in a 10 minute walk? A 5 min walk? This could be a walk for the sake of getting some steps in, or maybe you have to run an errand and can walk. there instead of driving or commuting?

Your day will get busy, so scheduling these little walks ahead of time will help you be more organized with your day and can even provide much needed breaks.

2. Park further away from your destination

When you drive to work, or anywhere, get in the habit of parking a few blocks away from your final location. This can add a few minutes more of walking on your way to and from it.

As you get better at this, park further and further away.

3. Get off a few stops earlier if you use the bus or subway

Same idea here, start using your legs earlier in your daily commute.

On days when it's nice and sunny out, get off earlier and enjoy the weather. This is also a nice way to get more sunshine throughout the day.

4. Bike or walk whenever possible

The goal is to rely only on your legs as a mean of transportation. On top of burning more calories, you will save big on gas and parking.

Some reframing of what is important to you may be necessary here. I remember that for myself, I thought walking was an inefficient use of my time. I had to think about my daily priorities to start enjoying this process more.

For example, I no longer try to be super productive all the time and use walking time as a way to slow down my days, recharge my mental health, and spend some me time.

5. Walk to your groceries

This one packs an extra punch because you'll have to walk your groceries BACK as well. Don't do this with your Costco run, but think about it for you smaller grocery hauls

Make sure you don't shop more than two bags worth as too many of them will render the walk home a tad awkward (It's fine walking from you car to your front door with 5 bags in each hand, less so when you have 3 or more blocks to walk).

Again, you may have to schedule the extra time it takes you to walk.

6. Go for walking mediation

Instead of a still meditation session, go for a walking one. The same cues apply: if you are doing a breathing mediation, focus on your breath when you walk the same as you would during a sitting variation.

The main difference I've noticed with walking vs sitting meditations is that your eyes are open. For myself, this makes it tougher to do relaxing meditations so I do more focus meditations: focusing on one thing only (Could be my breath, my steps, the way things move in front of me) and making a conscious effort to refocus on it every time my mind wanders off.

7. Take the stairs whenever you can

If you have less than two flights of stairs, you should try to take them as often as possible. Not only is going up and down stairs time spent on your feet, it's even more active than walking, so more calories burnt.

The same strategy as parking can be used here, if you have 50 flights to go up, take the elevator for 47 or 48 of them. Walk the rest of the way up.

8. Walk with friends

Spending time with friends is a very important thing for me. I always make sure that there are times during the week and especially on the weekends that I spend with them.

During the summer, we always tend to go walking. We could be walking somewhere, like to a bar or restaurant, or just going for a walk for the sake of it.

Going for a walk with loved ones is a simple way to get more steps in and the opportunities for it are numerous.

For example, I spend a lot of timer with my family around the dinner table. After our meal, we sometimes play games, or sometimes choose to go for a walk.

9. Clean or garden

Doing household chores can also help you burn more calories throughout the day. Once again, you're not only on your feet, but you are physically active, like going up the stairs.

Do you need to transform yourself into a cleaning manic? No. Can you do a few chores here and there more regularly? Maybe.

If you have a garden, tending to it will also make you spent more time outside, which if you have an office job, is a plus.

10. Do mini workouts

Mini workouts are those that are less than 10 minutes long. The goal here is more to move around throughout the day than to get a sweat or a pump on.

Consistently doing multiple mini workouts throughout your week will help tip the caloric balance in your favour.

If you're unsure what to do, check these out.

Short and sweet leg workout

No equipment is required, you can go at your own pace, as fast or as slow as you want. Perfect for anyone who wants to move around even without gym equipment.

Beginner dumbbell workout

Do each move for 40 seconds and rest for 20 seconds. Perfect for those working at home with dumbbells near by.


Increasing your NEAT revolves around one main theme: Find ways to be on your feet as often as possible.

To make these strategies last a long time, find ones that fit into your existing routine and lifestyle. Find ways to modestly alter what you already do to spent more time standing. Maybe it's easier to do this at work, maybe it's easier to do this at home. Maybe it's a combo.

The ten ideas above are only a small sample of what you can do. You will be able to find many more when you take a close look at your lifestyle.



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