NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is basically all the movement you do throughout the day (excluding the energy release from physiological processes).
We usually think of increasing our activity through more common forms of cardio like jogging, playing sports, and walking on the treadmill. Cardio doesn’t have to be something you dedicate one specific time block to. In fact, by focusing on increasing your movement throughout the day, you allow for a more sustainable approach to getting your expenditure up and being able to maintain that long term.
What Can You See Yourself Doing 6 Months From Now?
Success on any endeavor is all about maintaining long term habits. When most people adopt a new habit (like losing weight), the issue isn’t losing the weight. It’s being able to keep off the weight long after the diet is done.
We all have lives that go beyond the gym. We want to spend time with our families, pursue other interests, and overall focus on other aspects of our lives. So why add another thing onto the list that you don’t want to keep?
Any time you pick up a new habit you should be asking yourself - Can I see myself doing this 6 months from now?
If you can’t answer that with a 9/10 response, then the new habit is too much. Change it, or make the habit easier until you can confidently answer yes. Adding in cardio, or dieting, or even just incorporating an exercise routine into your life isn’t some temporary fix. If you have a goal in mind, and you’ve never lifted before, then you can’t expect to achieve that goal, and 6 months later you stop doing all the things it took you to get there. If you want to change your health, body image, physiology, you have to keep up those habits.
How to Implement NEAT
It’s a lot easier for busier people to go for a walk for 10 minutes after every meal, than heading to the gym for a 30 minute cardio session. At least this way, your partner or kids can join you, or you can just take advantage of a nice day. It’ll also help your digestion after a meal be more efficient.
For those who like numbers and data (like I do), use your steps as a way to track your progress. Start off with 10,000 steps a day. Implement and spread that out any way you want, but by the end of the day you gotta hit 10,000.
If you have a fat loss goal, keep doing that till your weight loss plateaus. Then add 3,000-5,000 steps and shoot for that goal. Unless you want to, try not to jump right into cardio at the gym to hit that step count. Keep incorporating it into your day until you find you struggle to hit that number. Then use cardio as a tool to more easily hit that step count.
This doesn’t mean you can’t still do steady state cardio, or HIIT training. By all means, if you love those forms of exercise then do it. The purpose of this article is to show you that incorporating a bigger caloric expenditure throughout your day doesn’t have to be as invasive as we’ve been taught. We ideally want to focus on changing our behaviors and not just focusing on the outcome.