NEAT: A Great Way To Burn Calories Without Intentionally Exercising

NEAT graphicNon-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy you expend for everything that isn’t sleeping, eating or doing sports-like exercise. NEAT helps burn calories and comes from activities like walking to work, doing the laundry or yard work, cooking, or pacing while you talk on the phone.

Most of us sit too much.  Someone who sits at a desk takes about 5,000 to 6,000 steps a day .  On average, a man living in an Amish community who takes about 18,000 steps a day and a woman takes14,000 steps.

Our modern way of life has given us lots of NEAT-squelching tools:  smart phones , ipads, microwaves, remote controls, electric toothbrushes, even robotic vacuum cleaners.  As a result, we need to consciously devise ways to build back some activity into daily life.

Simple examples could be walking the dog a block more; walking to a deli a few blocks away to pick up lunch; having some walk-and-talk meetings during the day; pacing when you’re on the phone; getting off the bus a block earlier; and moving around the playground with your kids instead of sitting on the park bench.

If you incorporate some of these ideas into your day, you can burn hundreds of extra calories a day.


Fidgeting doesn’t help much with calorie burn or weight loss. Research shows that the secret to burning fat is to get up, move around, and walk. Initially NEAT was labeled as a fidgeting phenomenon, but the NEAT researchers point out that you wouldn’t be able to fidget enough in a day to burn 800 calories.

The researchers believe that fidgeting is the body’s way of telling you to get up and move. Bodies want to move, but the environment and technology makes if very easy to not have to move around.

Some NEAT Examples To Burn An Additional 500 Calories

  1. Taking an hours worth of phone calls while standing up and pacing burns 100 to 130 calories, while making phone calls for an hour while sitting at your desk burns 15 calories.
  2. Walking for 30 minutes at lunch and then sitting and eating for 15 minutes burns 100-130 calories.  If you sat for 45 minutes while eating you’d burn 25 calories.
  3. Having a one hour walking meeting burns 150-200 calories.  A seated one hour meeting burns 15.




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