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NEATen Up Your Day

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you always prided yourself as being a NEAT person? Do you think your life needs a little more NEATness to it?

According to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, adding just a little extra NEAT to our daily lives can make quite an impact not only in weight loss attempts but in our fitness goals as well.

So what exactly is NEAT? NEAT is an acronym for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, a term coined by the Mayo Clinic to describe everyday activities that we do besides formal exercise that helps us raise our daily caloric expenditure.

These are small pockets of every day activities that add up over the course of a day, week, month, and yes, even years. You know those extra steps we take around the grocery store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, carrying your groceries into your house, heck even pacing while you are talking on the phone.

You’d think this would be simple, right? I wish.

With the advent of new technology, we no longer have the greatest opportunity for these small, yet cumulative, caloric expenditures that our ancestors experienced years ago. The conveniences of today may explain some of our gaining ways over the years. Technologies such as garage door openers, remote controls, robot vacuum cleaners, and elevators all make our lives easier while taking away a great opportunity to burn just a few extra calories.

But never fear, NEAT is here! According to the Mayo Clinic study NEAT may be the reason why individuals who eat the same number of calories, burn the same number of calories from exercise, while having the same body type can have very different body compositions.

The reason, those who fidget, pace, park the car farther from the entrance, walk to their co-worker's cubicle for help, play Wii Fit with their kids, mow their own lawn, clean their own house, walk the dog, etc. are burning more calories for these activities than they would sitting in front of the TV or computer.

The Mayo Clinic study also reported that NEAT individuals who had very active jobs burned as many as 1,000 calories more per day then their sedentary coworkers. If this doesn't rattle your cage, that is equivalent to an average individual running almost 10 miles! While most people will not burn nearly that many calories in their day, any time one can burn a little here and a little there, it all adds up.

How do you incorporate NEAT habits into your life? And if you currently incorporate these habits into your daily life, have they made a difference?

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besides parking in the rear of the parking lot, i travel a lot and often walk to the concourses for my flights rather than take the underground train. since many travel days mean no formal exercise, this is a great way to work in a little work out. Report
For about a year now - my spot in the parking lot at work is the furthest corner - and boy do I complain when someone else parks there - I'm one of the first to volunteer to stand up or will just stand and walk around with the mantra - I need to burn extra calories! It's nice to know that some place in my life I may be NEAT. ;o) Report
I walk...everywhere that I can. And now I don't feel so bad about being a "pacer." I have several friends who will talk for an hour or more in-spite of "get off the phone hints" so rather than hanging up on them I do laps around the grad housing unit I'm in. It's safe, well lit (at night) and there are some stairs...I call it the "My friend won't get off the phone" work out. Next time I'll strap on my pedometer to check it out. :) Report
Often when I'm standing up I do calf raises: for instance, waiting for the bus, waiting in a queue, cooking.

When sitting at my desk I do knee extensions.

Often, when I've got to get on the bus, I walk one stop further, and/or get off one stop before my final destination. Report
Since I work in a big high school and follow one student around all day, I have been getting in lots of extra steps--and always volunteer to go make copies for teachers so I can add extra steps--I try to park at a distance to stores and since I love to browse, get in extra steps that way, too. I am having no problems getting over 10000 steps in each day --I actually get bored now if I stay seated too long. Report
These are all great ideas folks (I do many of them!!), keep them coming!! Report
Who has time to sit in front of the tv? By the time I'm done making dinner, feeding the kids and husband, eating my own dinner, getting in my exercise, studying for my college class, renovating our house or caring for the garden, cleaning up the mess and preparing for the next day, I'm ready for BED! Report
If I am watching a TV programme I get up and do something in the adverts eg wash the dishers Report
Well, I used to pride myself on how efficient I was ... never making extra trips, working smart, not hard. I have since realized there are many many opportunities for activity! I have a friend who hid her TV remote and another who uses a hand basket rather than a cart at the grocery store and does bicep curls as she walks or waits in line! Pretty NEAT!!!! Report
If it were not for NEAT habits I could be in big trouble, NEAT habits really help me out a lot! Report
I march in place while I brush my teeth, thats an extra 4 minutes a day. I park my car as far from the store as possible when I shop.

Kitt Report
I always walked to my coworkers cubicles rather than call them. I also used the stairs rather than the elevator. Every step counts. Report
My co-workers think I'm nuts because I get up from my desk to go talk to them instead of calling them or emailing them...and on my busy days, that can be a LOT of running around...but it all adds up!

I try to find little ways to add activity...I don't park right at the front door unless it's rainy...after I saw my ob/gyn taking the stairs at her office a few months ago, I reminded myself I need to do that, too...even though I run, that was quite a little workout - of course, her office is on the 4th floor! Report
We've just moved to a new home that doesn't have a fence....which means I am walking my dog at least twice a day! I told my hubby I'm not sure I want to get the yard fenced now, because that will give me a lot less reason to get up and walk the dog. Report
I have started parking further away at the grocery store and the convience store. Places where I can get a little more leg work in. I also get up at least once an hour to take a pace through the house so I don't sit in front of the computer all day long. Report
I always walk the stairs at work and park my care in a corner so I have further to walk. I have used these tricks since about 2001. I now do not try to do things quite as "efficiently" In the past, I might have used a basket when cleaning to collect things that needed to go to a different roon--now I walk each thing a put it away immediately insted of combining and waiting. Report
Instead of combining tasks to save steps I now do tasks separately both at home and work. I use to gather things downstairs that needed to go upstairs and leave on the stairs and take them all at one time and vice versa. Now it is separate trips for just about each item. At work I have a fax-copier beside my station in the lab. I would use it to make copies when processing samples. But, now I take what needs to be copied to the copier, go back to my station, proceed with another task and then go back to the copier to get my copy. I park further away in parking lots. I go for a walk during lunch instead of sitting and talking. Just a few examples. Report
Oh! I LOVE the NEAT study! I want one of their working computer treadmill desks. Report
I don't do as much as I should. I will make it a priority to be conscious of adding more to my day. Report
i always take the stairs when i go someplace. i am scared of elevators, lol. i also clean my own house and mow/rake/shovel my own yard/sidewalk/driveway. i pretty much don't pay anyone to do anything that i can do myself. it helps save money and get in that extra bit of activity. Report
The more fit I become, the more my body instinctively seems to seek out ways to move. I refer to it as the "fidgit factor" because sometimes that is exactly what it seems like I'm doing. If a coworker sends me an email requesting info and the exchange will take more than 1 email to clarify, I'll get up and walk to their office and to discuss the situation. Why should my fingers be the only part of me getting an extra workout?
At home, I mow my own lawn, I make numerous trips to the outside trash bin, I rarely carry my laundry to the basement in a laundry basket because I can make several trips if I carry one load down at a time in my arms. It all adds up as bonus points in my book. Report
I've been trying to incorporate activity into my life and find that getting up during commercial breaks tends to work for me in the evenings. I'll jump up and clean for 2-3 minutes, take care of some dishes, or fold laundry. At work, it is harder since I have a computer based job and sit for 8 hrs... Still trying to find what will work for me there. Report
WOW! this is a great reminder for me to create as many opportuinities as I can to burn a few extra calories! Report
I have a job where I am in front of a computer for 8 hours days so I started standing up or working at a standing computer position. Report
As far as being active, it helps being a preschool teacher! Up, down, run around. I may not have much time for regular exercise, but the kids give it to me daily! Report
If I have any waiting to do such as in examine room at Dr. I do arm circles or leg lifts-it passes the time and I get a mini work out too. Bernie Report
I'm going to take a closer look at how I move thru my day! Report