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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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Great reminder to weave movement in all day long. Yesterday I logged 2000+ steps setting up my container garden (bring plants in from car, bring plants onto deck, grab trowel and gloves, do the actual planting, sweep up the mess, clean and put away tools). I wonder how many steps it takes to clean my house?!? Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
This is FANTASTIC and just the article I need to read before I get into the car to ride to Denver with my brother for the afternoon. Now, I will be doing leg lifts and knee bends and arm presses during the hour couple hour ride. THANKS SPARK PEOPLE!!! Report
I love this one! Thanks! Report
Thanks what a NEAT article! Report
I always use stairs and try to walk when talking on the phone Report
Do the car parking thing every time I go out. Report
I've always parked the car at the far end of the lot at the supermarket, but this week I started parking at the far end of the lot at work. We have a walking path around our office complex and I use it to get from my car to the office--that's 7 minutes each way! At work, I send papers to the printer that's furthest from my desk. This week I also started going up the stairs to the kids' rooms to get them for meals instead of just yelling up to them. Report
This is the first I've heard of NEAT... but it makes total sense! I love the concept. I work on my feet as a nurse and it makes a big difference in my life. Being active not only helps me burn extra calories but it keeps me to busy to snack between meals!~ Report
I try to incorporate this concept wherever I can - stairs instead of elevator or escalator, parking at the back of the parking lot and walking further to get to the store, jogging up and down the stairs when I change the laundry, etc. The blog is a good reminder to keep looking for little ways to add exercise to your day! Report
I wonder if this includes things like crocheting and other crafts I do while I sit. I can't just sit, my hands have to be busy. Report
Who knew my fidgety personality was a good thing? :) I've also begun to park further away, take the stairs when I can and fill my water bottle from the cooler upstairs as opposed to the one down the hall. Every little bit helps - and this is proof! Report
Yes, little efforts make up big results. When taking my son to school I try to walk instead of driving as much as possible. When I get to work, I always park my car at the lower parking lot where I have to walk up the hill to the gym. Same thing when I go to the mall or a store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Things this little can have significant effects on our overall healthy in a long run. Report
I learned about 4 years ago that even fidgeting is a way of burning just a few extra calories a day so I do it every time I'm sitting down. Report
My hubby is a good example of how well NEAT can work. He is very sedentary -- is at his computer terminal 8 to 10 hours a day seven days a week. But he does a lot of the housework, walks to places where he could use a phone, and makes a point of moving fast when he moves. His doctor, who is in very good shape and serves as the team doctor for our local university, has dis pared of getting him into a regular exercise program. I still remember the year he phoned in the results of George's lab tests. "The rat! " the good doc said . "He is healthy!!!". (However, he is overweight, and I still try to get him into a regular exercise program.) Report
I plan to NEATen my day! Thank you for such an informative article! :) Report
I fidget! Report
I found clipping on a pedometer helped me to keep active, just little things add up to a big amount. I have gone 15,099 steps today, most of it just little activities keeping me active around the house. When I first clipped on the pedometer (it's been a year) I was lucky if I did 3,500 steps in a day. Now I look for things to keep me moving and yes, if I am sitting I am fidgeting, did you know fidgeting burns 9 calories more an hour than sitting still? How many times were you told as a child to sit still? I was always hearing that - I never tell me kids to sit still and when hubby tells them that I give him a nasty look. Report
I would def say that NEAT works !!!

Since getting out of POP after I broke my ankle a few months back I am constantly doing leg / ankle 'exercises' (without even realising) but my legs go non-stop esp when at comp !!!!!!!

But see other ways where I could become NEATer too !!!!!!!!
I love this! I've always tried to add extra steps by parking at the back of the parking lot. The idea of small chunks of exercise on hectic days is great. I am new to spark people and this will help me on my days between my gouop fitness cardio. I am going to share this with my group today! Report
I understand how badly I need those Neat moments back. I used to teach High School, and I traveled 2-3 miles every day on those hard floors, not to mention the time I spent running up and down the stairs and standing to teach class. As soon as I retired, I almost immediately gained a stubborn 20 lbs that won't go away. Report
The NEAT factor plays into everything I do these that I've become aware of just how much it contributes to my overall health, I didn't realize how active I truly was........I used to be a "closer parking is better parking" person. While when we go as a family I utilize closer parking since my guy is in a wheelchair, when it's just me I'll park practically at the end of a row and walk it..........which in a walmart parking lot is a good little distance LOL I WOULD like to have a robot sweeper though, for my critters.....they love moving toys LOLOLOL Report
I work at a hospital on the main switchboard which is mostly a sit down job. I try to stand up as much as I can and walk around the office. I arrive to work a few minutes early so I can park in the back and enjoy a nice walk on my way into work. There have been a few times over the summer (when it wasn't too hot and humid) that I would walk for a mile and a half on my half hour lunch. Now that Autumn has arrived I should get back into that routine again. Burning 100 calories at lunch is awesome! Report
It has always amused me to see people drive around a parking lot several times looking for a closer space.... then go into the fitness center!!! What are they thinking!! LOL Report
I like to put on house/dance music offer by my cable provider when folding the laundry. LOL. I freaked my husband out the first time walked into the family room and I had on house music and shaking everything. He thought I had been drinking ! Report
I love the NEAT factor. I am hoping that soon when we account for our daily activites, that it will included normal or daily activities such as, vaccuuming, washing windows, grocery shopping, doing laundry, etc. I find that they have all helped me, but my problem is I don't actually know how to figure how the "calories burned" aspect. Report
Thanks for the reminder. I know I have heard this before but sometimes forget to do it. Report
Since moving to the UK I hardly use my car! Our house is within walking distance of groceries, gym, school, pubs....oh, that's why I need to lose weight.... Report
I have been doing this on and off for years, now I do it all the time. I found a site that calculates calories burned for lots of so called mundane things, like washing dishes by hand, sweeping, mopping, parking car farther away etc. I know I am now getting three times as much activity as I was getting a year ago. I know its working because I am down 4 jean sizes and feel better and have more energy.
Today I will NEATen up my life! I love this! Report
My legs are always moving. It may seem like nervous energy, but while I'm at the computer I'll wiggle my legs constanly! Report
I always walk/run in place while I'm heating something in the microwave. True, it's only for a couple of minutes, but if you do it several times a day..... Lately, I've been setting up my ironing in the kitchen and then walking back and forth with each newly ironed piece to hang it up in the bedroom closet. If I'm watching TV, I often get up and walk around during commercials - on one of my teams I was told that these little bits don't count as exercise! Not as cardio, maybe, but it's nice to know they really do add up! Report
I find myself always picking up things as I walk through the house and I often make one than one trip - it is easier to clean as you go than to have a whole pile to put away later. I try to keep my house neat since I can't get the other members of the house to clean up and put things away when they are finished. I do not like clutter and it easily can get out of hand. My winter months will be spend clean out my house from all the clutter we have collected and never use. I clean out my kids clothing and toys they have outgrown and collect them for a consignment sale which I make money on while clearing the clutter out of my house. Also donate other items to a store than resells items so then help out others as well. Report
I've never understood other teachers at school who spend all of their time behind a desk - I walk around the room, help students, explain what we're doing, demonstrate - I rarely sit down! And I can log a mile or two per class period on my handy pedometer! YAY for NEAT!!! Report
I have to go and exercise, but I use my pedometer to see how much I step each day. I take it on vacations when I do not have a clue how far I walk. Now I wear it often to see other times, I spend energy. Report
I can never sit still too long because it irritates me to do so. Unless like this weekend because my feet and legs would not let me move. But I walk to and from work everyday and at any other time I can. When it's my turn to sit at the front desk for reception duty I make sure to take some work with me so that I can print then that way I can RUN to the back and pick up whatever documents I've printed. When I relieve someone at the front desk for a few minutes I don't sit down. I stay standing and walk back and forth. So I'm always trying to do some form of small movements whenever possible.

And at home my apartment is big so I sometimes take the long way around to get in some extra movement. Report
I walk to and from the gym ( a mile each way). I walk the dog every day. If I just need a few things at the grocery store, I will walk to the nearby Safeway. If the bags are heavy, that is an extra bonus. :) And if hubby and I decide to go out to eat, we'll usually walk to one of the many restaurants around our neighborhood. It saves gas and we get an extra little workout in before eating (sometimes bad) restaurant food.
I practically live on the computer. I recently read a suggestion to use an exercise ball instead of my chair. The first day I tried it I noticed its effects around my hips and gluts. Within a couple of days I felt tightness in my abs, too. Last week (my first week with my exercise ball chair) I lost two pounds. And I feel like I have been stuck at a platau for awhile. Not anymore with the ball. Report
I never sit when I can stand, stand still when I don't have to & have a habit of reading something all the time when I am sitting. Plus I either tap my feet or do Isometric exercises when ever I can. And always sit or stand straight! With abs engaged please. Report
I walk everywhere - live in a big city, which makes this fun. And I exaggerate the little task ... do you have any idea how long it takes to hang up wet T-shirts if you do them ONE at a time (washer to hanger to closet to washer to hanger to closet ...)? A LONG time. :) And I'm definitely seeing the results of all the little bouts of activity.

I think many of these NEAT people are Virgos. LOL Report
I try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I also ride the bike for smaller errands and I try to park my car once while shopping and walk from store to car to store instead of re-parking my car. Report
I try to take the stairs and park a little bit away from work Report