The Wellness Library

A NEAT Approach to Exercise

by | Jun 14, 2023 | Wellness, Most Popular

The word “exercise” can generate an array of visceral feels–stemming from “LOVING it” all the way to dread, and issues with accessibility. Simply said, it can be a lot. Some of us find it our main way to destress, boost dopamine (our happy hormone), and just love to sweat it out. Others find it overwhelming, not that fun, or something they feel they can’t do properly (due to injuries or the like). 

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Enter, NEAT exercises. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Aside from the fanciness of this term, it’s actually quite the opposite. NEAT exercises are the activities you already do–this effort encourages you to do MORE of them. These are all activities for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or exercise; and ranges from simple things like standing and fidgeting to moving about.

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It might be obvious but the awesome thing about NEAT exercises is you have them right at your fingertips. The best way to get going is to reflect on what you do now and how you can do more of that!

  • Create a list of your general daily activities.
    • What do you do in the mornings to get ready for your day?
    • What happens during the bulk of your day (think 9-5ish)
    • What do you do in the evenings?
  • Are you aware of how many hours you spend sitting each day? Perhaps add here – compare your ratio of time spent doing seated versus standing activities (e.g., 70/30%)
  • Identify problematic areas where you notice time spent in seated positions and think creatively of ways to accomplish these same activities while standing (e.g., texting, talking on the phone). Instead of sitting or laying on the couch talking to a friend, could you lap around the block or your house.
  • Challenge yourself to a couple of these new ideas, starting with things you feel confident in accomplishing.
  • Evaluate your experiences, but don’t force things you don’t like. If you enjoyed the experience and feel confident–you can do it again. Attempt that same challenge every day for the next week (finite challenge). 
  • As little as 100 calories each day translates to approximately 10½ lbs. lost in a year; 200 calories equals the loss of 21 lbs.

Some of our favorite ways to “get NEAT” are:

  • Taking the stairs vs elevator
  • Parking farther away from the door
  • Sweeping
  • Dusting
  • Washing dishes
  • Vacuuming
  • DIY projects
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Raking leaves
  • Gardening
  • Walking and talking
  • … and more

Even more great news–that’s it. It’s so simple it feels like we are missing something…


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