If someone were to ask me if I get enough exercise, I would confidently reply, “Yes, I prioritize making time to break a sweat, get my heart pumping, and stay active.” However, I might conveniently forget to mention that I often choose to drive a short distance to get my coffee instead of taking a walk, or that going through the drive-thru is more appealing than leaving my car. I wouldn’t admit that I rarely opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Individually, these shortcuts may not seem like a big deal since I still managed to work out that day. However, these shortcuts slowly diminish an often overlooked source of metabolic health known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
NEAT, as it is commonly referred to, encompasses all the calories burned through daily activities that are not intentional physical exercise. These activities include household chores, walking through the grocery store, climbing stairs, fidgeting at your desk, or preparing meals. Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist, and pioneer of NEAT research, explains the challenge of studying NEAT due to the difficulty in measuring all of these activities accurately.
Fortunately, researchers have made progress in understanding NEAT and how to optimize its benefits. They have discovered that even small changes in behavior can significantly affect NEAT levels and impact overall health. It has also been found that individuals of the same size can have varying levels of NEAT based on factors such as occupation, location, and natural inclination to move around. The key takeaway is that many of us who live sedentary lifestyles can incorporate more NEAT into our daily routines with minor adjustments and a shift in mindset.
NEAT contributes to overall energy expenditure by filling in the gaps left by essential bodily functions and digestion. Daily errands and activities can chip away at the remaining percentage of energy expenditure. Even among regular exercisers, NEAT often plays a more substantial role in calorie burning than structured workouts. While NEAT is not a substitute for intense physical exercise, it represents a more accessible option, particularly for those who have difficulty finding time for dedicated exercise sessions.
Everyday activities may surprise you with their potential to increase NEAT significantly. Levine’s research revealed that simply sitting up burns about 5% to 7% more calories compared to lying down. Fidgeting while seated can further increase calorie expenditure. Light activities such as ironing or folding clothes can elevate metabolic rate by 15%. However, the real game-changer is walking at a leisurely pace of about one and a half to two miles per hour, doubling your metabolic rate. This illustrates how seemingly insignificant movements, like walking short distances or doing household chores, can make a notable difference in calorie burn throughout the day. Even activities like chewing gum or cooking can contribute to NEAT by burning extra calories.
Levine emphasizes the importance of incorporating mobility and walking into sedentary routines. For example, coming home from work and spending the evening watching TV may only burn around 30 calories. However, engaging in household activities that involve movement can increase NEAT by 700 calories or more within the same time frame. The fundamental idea is to replace sitting time with activities that require mobility.
There is evidence suggesting that some individuals have a heightened ability to sense when they consume excess calories, triggering an unconscious impulse to move more. Levine’s study in the 1990s demonstrated that those who could effectively burn off extra calories through NEAT were better at preventing weight gain. However, further research is needed to fully understand this compensatory mechanism.
Orexin, a compound in the brain, seems to play a crucial role in regulating NEAT. Studies have shown that increasing orexin levels or stimulating orexin neurons in animals leads to increased movement. This may explain why certain animals in the same environment and food conditions experience different weight outcomes. In the context of NEAT, orexin acts as a natural internal reminder to be active, similar to the reminders provided by fitness trackers like the Apple Watch.
In conclusion, prioritizing NEAT in our daily lives can have significant impacts on our metabolic health. By making small changes to incorporate more movement into our routines, we can increase NEAT levels and improve overall well-being. So, the next time someone asks if you get enough exercise, you can confidently say, “Absolutely! I prioritize not only intentional physical exercise but also incorporate NEAT into my daily activities.”
Denial of responsibility! SamacharCentrl is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
Rohit Malhotra is a medical expert and health journalist who offers evidence-based advice on fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being. His articles aim to help readers lead healthier lives.