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If you’re trying to lose weight, but you’re frustrated because you don’t have hours to spend at the gym, there’s a really easy way to increase your daily calorie burn while improving your overall health.
The best part is that it doesn’t require any fancy equipment, trendy exercise programs, or twisting yourself into a pretzel. It’s completely free and anyone, whether they have a lot of little time on their hands, can do it.
What is this magic I speak of? First, let’s talk a little about what it really takes to burn fat and drop those unwanted pounds.
To be successful with fat loss, you need to get yourself into a calorie deficit each day. That means to lose weight, you need to do two things:
- Eat fewer and better quality calories (the healthier the better)
- Get more activity and exercise
Sometimes we focus on one or the other, but a combined approach is the healthiest course of action.
But you don’t have to sweat buckets in the gym for long periods of time to do good things for your body.
Studies show that:
- Shorter spurts of vigorous exercise as low as 6 minutes throughout the day (called exercise snacks) are just as good for the body as one long workout (1, 2).
- Increasing your NEAT is one of the best ways to get your body moving and increase calorie burn while improving your health (3, 4).
What is NEAT?
NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
And it includes all the energy we spend doing anything that isn’t sleeping, eating, or a dedicated workout.
NEAT comprises all our normal day-to-day activities, like standing, walking, fidgeting, toe-tapping, shuffling things, and other movements that are part of our daily routine.
Why is Increasing Your NEAT So Important?
NEAT is just as important as exercise (maybe more so).
By making minor lifestyle changes and incorporating more movement into your day, you can burn more calories and improve overall health without even realizing it. Yes, it’s that simple.
To get in shape and stay healthy, we often think we need to focus solely on committing to long blocks of cardio and strength training sessions.
While both are key to improving our conditioning and building muscle, here’s why boosting your NEAT is majorly important :
Exercising 1 Hour (out of a 24-hour day) = 4% of your day.
Work out 5 days a week for an hour. That’s only 5 hours dedicated to calories burned.
Sleeping 8 Hours = 33% of your day.
We only burn about 50 calories per hour in our sleep (on average).
The Remaining 15 Hours = 63% of your day left over.
This is the best time to get in more movement, increase your NEAT levels and achieve more calorie and fat burn.
In fact, increasing your NEAT can give you another 107 hours to get in more calorie burn!
That’s a great advantage if fat and weight loss are your goal. But it’s also an impactful way to stay healthy.
What Are the Benefits of Increasing Your Daily NEAT?
There are several benefits to increasing your daily NEAT and getting more natural activity throughout your day, including:
- Increases Calorie Burn: Since NEAT accounts for a significant amount of the total calories that we burn each day, increasing our NEAT can lead to higher calorie expenditure and, ultimately, weight loss (5).
Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
- Improves Cardiovascular Health: Studies have shown that increasing NEAT can improve cardiovascular health, decrease blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity (6).
- Reduces Sedentary Behavior: Increasing NEAT can help reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting, which has been linked to a range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (7).
- Boosts Mood: Even light movement like walking can boost endorphins, ease stress, reduce depression and anxiety, and improve productivity (8).
How Does NEAT Help With Fat Loss?
NEAT can help with fat loss in several ways.
It Boosts Calorie Burn: By increasing NEAT, you can increase your daily calorie burn and create a calorie deficit, which is essential for fat loss.
It Boosts Metabolism: NEAT can help improve your metabolism, making it easier to burn fat and lose weight. A faster metabolism burns more calories at rest and during activity.
It Improves Insulin Sensitivity: Staying active throughout your day can help your body better regulate blood sugar levels, and help your burn fat as energy in between meals which can aid in weight loss.
How Many Calories Can You Burn With NEAT?
The number of calories you burn each day will depend on what activities you’re doing as well as your body’s own metabolism. Individuals with larger bodies naturally burn more calories than petite individuals.
To track your daily calorie burn, consider downloading an activity-tracking app or getting a smart fitness watch. These tools can give you a good idea of how many calories your body burns.
Here are 36 simple ways to increase NEAT throughout the day and burn more calories without even realizing it:
General Ways to Increase Your NEAT
Let’s start with some easy ways to get your heart rate up and incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine around your house:
1. Stand Instead of Sitting
Anytime you stand over sitting, you’re doing something good for your health. Standing for just 15 minutes every hour can burn up to 130 calories.
2. Get more steps.
Getting 10,000 steps a day is often touted as the magic number we need to reach every day. But one study found significant benefits at just over 7,000 (9). Get a fitness tracker, an app on your phone, or a simple pedometer to keep track and work your way up.
General Ways to Increase NEAT While at Home
3. Clean and do household chores.
Cleaning the house, doing laundry, or washing dishes can burn up to 100-150 calories an hour. Move vigorously through your house as you vacuum, sweep, dust, and scrub.
4. Wash your car by hand.
Save some money and up your NEAT too! Washing the car by hand for 30 minutes may burn around 135 calories for a 125-pound person and up to 200 calories for someone weighing 185 pounds.
5. Do yard work.
Gardening or mowing the lawn can burn up to 200-400 calories an hour. This can include raking, weeding, planting, trimming bushes and trees, watering your garden, or anything else around the yard.
6. Fix or paint things.
Have some DIYs you’ve been meaning to tackle? Makeover your home as you burn calories.
7. Get cooking.
This is a great way to increase your NEAT as you slice, dice, chop, and stir.
8. Play with your kids and/or pets
Playtime with your pets or kids can burn up to 200-300 calories an hour. This is also a great way to spend some quality time with the family.
9. Walk your dog everyday
Your doggie needs his or her steps too, to stay healthy! Not only will it get you more steps, but your pup will enjoy burning off excess energy and the extra time outside, too.
10. Try standing instead of sitting while working on your computer or watching TV
This minor change can add up to a significant increase in calorie burn. If you work at home or spend a lot of time on your computer, consider investing in a standing desk to burn more calories per hour than sitting.
11. Do squats, leg lifts, sit-ups, or lunges while watching TV.
Boost your NEAT by doing simple exercises like squats, leg lifts, or lunges while watching TV. You can burn an extra 150-200 calories an hour.
12. Take the stairs more often.
If you live in an apartment building, taking the stairs burns more calories than taking the elevator and is an easy way to increase physical activity.
Ways to Increase NEAT at Work
If you have a desk job, you’re likely sitting for most of your workday. Sitting at a desk all day can be detrimental to your health. But there are still plenty of ways to increase your NEAT.
13. Take mini breaks to stretch your legs and walk around the office.
Taking breaks and walking around the office can help get your blood flowing and burn calories, reduce stress, and clear your mind to improve productivity. At least three minutes every hour.
14. Stand during phone calls or meetings.
Standing during phone calls or meetings can help increase physical activity and burn calories.
15. Use a stability ball as a chair.
Using a stability ball as a chair can help improve balance and core strength while burning more calories.
16. Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing.
Walking to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing is an easy way to increase NEAT.
17. Do light exercises or stretches at your desk.
Desk exercises or stretches can help reduce tension and increase calorie burn. This can also help you stay limber and prevent stiffness from sitting for too long.
18. Walk to a farther restroom or water fountain.
Walking to a farther restroom or water fountain is an easy way to increase NEAT.
19. Park farther away in your office parking lot.
This is a great way to get more steps in for the day as long as it’s safe.
20. Skip the elevator or escalator and head for the stairwell instead.
It’s a quick and easy way to increase your daily step count and your heart rate.
21. Use a treadmill desk
Even at a very slow and comfortable pace, a standing desk can help burn a few hundred extra calories per day.
Ways to Increase NEAT During Your Commute
If you’re commuting to work or school, here are some great ways to increase your NEAT:
22. Tap your toe or do calf raises while waiting for the bus or train.
23. If traveling by plane, walk around the airport during layovers.
This is a great way to burn extra calories and get your blood flowing with hours of sitting ahead of you.
24. Walking or biking to work
This can burn up to 300-600 calories an hour and is an excellent way to get your heart rate up.
25. If taking public transportation, opt to stand instead of sit.
If you take public transportation, try standing instead of sitting or getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way.
26. Get off the bus or train at a stop earlier.
Walking more will help you get more steps in.
More Ways to Increase NEAT
Leisure time doesn’t have to be all about sitting on the couch or lounging by the pool. While that’s also nice, there are plenty of ways to incorporate NEAT into your free time.
27. Take a walk or bike ride after dinner.
28. Play a game in the yard or at the park (catch, soccer, etc.).
Catch up on family and outdoor time while getting in some fun movement. Lawn games like croquet and mini golf count too!
29. Try a fitness video game.
You don’t have to be sedentary while playing video games. Video Games like Ring Fit Adventure, Just Dance 2022, Fitness Boxing 2, EA Sports Active, or Beat Saber will get you off the couch and your heart pumping.
Dancing is a fun way to burn calories and increase NEAT. Dance while you clean the house, listen to music, or join a class. It’s a great way to improve your mood and reduce stress while also burning some extra calories.
Stretching is a great way to increase your NEAT and improve your flexibility. You can stretch while you watch TV, take a break from work, or even while you’re cooking dinner. Stretching can help relieve muscle tension, reduce the risk of injury, and improve your overall health.
32. Do yoga or tai chi.
These are easy to do in your living room or bedroom first thing in the morning while watching TV, or before bed. Check YouTube for tons of free classes.
33. Take a walking tour of a new city.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, try a new outdoor activity like kayaking, hiking, or rock climbing.
34. Take a swim.
Swimming lowers stress, strengthens muscles, is low impact, and is great for the body.
35. Learn to play an instrument.
Playing the guitar or drums is a great way to rock out, relieve stress, and also torch calories.
36. Do your own grocery shopping.
Instead of opting for delivery or curbside pickup, walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store will boost your step count. You’ll get extra points for loading and carrying your groceries.
Increasing your NEAT is an easy way to stay active throughout the day while helping you burn more calories with little extra effort.
Increasing your NEAT can also have a tremendously beneficial impact on your metabolism and your overall health. And combined with a healthy diet, burning more calories with NEAT can support steady fat loss.
Every movement counts, so if you want to stay healthy and reach your fitness goals, increasing your NEAT is the way to go.