NEAT is like the sneaky little hack that somehow escaped everyone's radar for years. When I first started my lifting career in 2005, and competed in 2008/2009, NO ONE was talking about using NEAT as cardio. Dieting always fell under the macho mentality of “get in the gym and do your cardio”.
Sure, that’s great if you don’t mind doing cardio in the gym, and have the time. But a lot of us are too busy for that. Our jobs take up more of our time, we have kids to watch, we can’t always be leaving our houses, and we can’t all afford to have cardio equipment in our house. This is where I love adding NEAT to my clients protocols.
Sustainable Habits vs The Quick Fix
The biggest advantage in my opinion for increasing your NEAT throughout the day is the sustainability of it. Studies show it’s not that people can’t lose weight. It’s that they can’t keep it OFF when followed up 6-12 months later. That sounds miserable. I would be CRUSHED if i busted my ass for 3-4 months dieting down, getting lean, making sacrifices to temporarily forgo eating at my normal levels only to throw all that effort away. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The question you should be asking yourself whenever you are considering a habit of ANY kind fitness or not is this:
“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 get to 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.
Value Your Life! - You can also park farther at the grocery, choose to take the stairs, pick up extra chores around the house (fellas your wife will love you for this), play with your kids in the yard, you name it. Also, let’s take a second to note that all these suggestions not only give you the benefit of a healthier you, but it’s increasing your life with your family tenfold! You are now finding reasons to be helpful or be with them rather than squeezing in time to go to the gym and escape them.
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.
For Those Dieting - 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. Only add movement as needed to help further increase that deficit and allow you to keep losing weight. Don’t add more than you have to. 1-2lbs a week is your goal. Once you get to a point where you just can’t hit the required steps through normal activity, THEN you can consider adding a cardio session at the gym or a run outside. Use the extra cardio as a way to quickly get the remaining steps in. The beauty of this method is you’ve focus on changing your behaviors, not focus on the outcome.
By incorporating NEAT over cardio, it changes your relationship with exercise, diet, and the entire process of how cardio actually works. It’s a tool to help you stay healthy and hit your goals. It’s NOT this weird, hamster wheel you have to get on by default because all your other friends say it’s necessary. Give this a try and let me know how it goes!