1.78% and the Importance of NEAT (no, not being clean)

13 September 2012, Comments 1

Photo from Men’s Health UK


That’s the percentage out of the total hours of your week that an average person spends working out. That’s 3 hours a week. Granted we average around 8 hours of sleep a day so if we take that into account, the number goes up to a STAGGERING


Here’s a clearer picture

See that sliver of Green? That’s how much time we spend on exercise in a week, on average. The dark blue side is when we are sleeping, so there’s nothing we can do about that. And besides we NEED those 8 hours for growth and recover and a lot of other things. What we need to focus on is that 60.22 % of the day when we are awake and supposedly mobile.



This is where NEAT comes in.

NEAT is Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. In order to survive we actually need calories. Sometimes we get caught up with calorie counting and trying to eat as less as we can, when there is a better and not to mention healthier solution. Just be more active. Wait, let me say that again, just be more MOBILE. 

Take this hypothetical example. Imagine two people, 1 is an office worker who wake up at 6 in the morning, goes for a 30 minure run, drives to work, where he sits from 9-5 in the office for hours working on paperwork. After work, he goes to the gym and gets an hour in on the weights. He then goes to dinner, drives home, watches tv till 10 then sleeps.

Now take another person who wakes up at 6am and bikes for an hour to get to work. Work consists of teaching classes while standing up and running after kids for 4 hours a day. The rest of the 4 hours, he spends in his desk, preparing lesson plans. He works out for 30 minutes in his school gym and then bikes home at 6. After dinner, he then walks his dog for 30 minutes before going to sleep at 10.

Now take a look what their different activity charts should look like:

Person A actually does more “exercise”, right? He works out for an hour and a half a day whereas person B just works out for 30 minutes a day. But because person B has more opportunities to burn calories in the form of NEAT, then without considering genetics and diet, he will be the leaner, healthier person.

Now, I’m not saying that Person A’s lifestlye is not a healthy way to live. And the solution isn’t to increase his gym hours since (by now I hope you all know) it only takes 30-45 minutes of quality gym time to get a good work out in. I’m just saying that there are ways that he can drive his NEAT so that his capacity to burn calories will increase as well. Here are a few simple suggestions:

Go for a 10 minute power walk

This not only shocks your system and metabolism but it’s also good to recharge your brain when searching for that next big idea. On a sunny day, you will also get some Vitamin D which is good for all sorts of things.

Set your alarm for every hour and stand up and walk around for 5 minutes.

The World Health Organization recommends that we should not go beyond 1 hour of uninterrupted sitting. Be honest, when was the last time you stood up from you desk. A good way to make this simpler is to keep drinking water. This way, you hit two birds with one stone, you hydrate yourself and you also have to stand up more often to go to the bathroom.

Get a dog

Person B had it right, and research backs him up. According to researchers from the Michigan State University, 60% of dog owners met the requirements for daily moderate to vigorous activity. Walking your dog for 30 minutes a day gives a big bump to your daily NEAT. Plus, let’s just face it, ou may be having a bad day, but everything becomes brighter when this meets you at the door.

Park far from you workplace

Try to find a parking lot that lets you walk at least 5 minutes going to your office. This is at least an extra 10 minutes a day of not sitting down on your butt.

So let’s say Person A did all of the above. Here’s his chart now:

That’s twice the amount of time he used to have for physical activity. Still not as much as person B but that’s still more. The point here is to not take for granted the little things because they all add up. 

I’ll be bold in saying this: The battle against Weight Loss is not always won in the gym. 



One response on “1.78% and the Importance of NEAT (no, not being clean)

  1. […] If you follow my blog, you’ve probably seen my post on the importance of NEAT. If you haven’t, check it out. Basically NEAT, or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is what makes up most of our lives. We only go to the gym for around 3% of our total waking moments during the week so it makes sense that if weight loss is the goal, we should incorporate NEAT into our lives. For more on that, follow this link. […]

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