You likely already know that staying active and remaining physically healthy is important to your productivity and work performance, but if you think you can’t make time for regular exercise, think again. Once you incorporate more “NEAT” (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) into your workday, you’ll find that you can reap some of the exact same benefits that you would experience from a traditional workout at the gym.
NEAT involves using your body’s energy for things that aren’t structured exercise or sports, such as walking up the stairs, carrying in groceries, cleaning your house, etc. Increasing your NEAT is an easy way to improve your health without the stress of adding a trip to the gym to your busy schedule. Here are the benefits you can expect and simple ways to get moving.
Key Benefits of NEAT
NEAT comes with a huge ROI. You invest little in the way of time and effort but see an array of benefits for your health. These key benefits include:
Boosts caloric expenditure
According to a study from Mayo Clinic Proceedings, NEAT can help you lose and manage your weight. NEAT activities such as walking, standing, fidgeting and everyday movements contribute to your daily caloric expenditure. Over time, this can help with weight management or weight loss by increasing your overall energy expenditure.
Improves metabolic health
If you live a particularly sedentary lifestyle and spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, you may be at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes. NEAT exercises can help you regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, and decrease your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Enhances cardiovascular health
NEAT enhances your heart and lung function, helping you maintain or improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This improvement can help you stay healthy and perform at your peak, longer.
Increases muscle tone and strength
Activities such as standing (or using a standing desk!), moving, and maintaining good posture engage various muscle groups, which can lead to improved muscle tone and strength.
Promotes better joint health
NEAT activities such as stretching to prevent stiffness or discomfort improve your joint health and help you protect your joints as you age.
Improves mental health
NEAT can help you reduce stress and anxiety, improving your mood and boosting your cognitive function. Improved mental health equals improved job performance and overall quality of life.
Helps correct posture
If you sit hunched over at your desk for most of the day, NEAT activities that require good posture can improve your spinal health and help you reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems.
Promotes digestive health
A sedentary lifestyle does nothing for your digestive health. If you have issues such as constipation or other digestive problems, NEAT activities and regular movement can help you alleviate or prevent them.
Increases energy levels
Regular NEAT exercise can lead to increased energy levels and reduced feelings of fatigue. This increase means you have more energy to devote to your work and to achieving your goals.
Boosts habitual movement
Over time, the more NEAT you incorporate into your day, the easier it gets. As you develop a lifestyle of continuous movement, exercise will become second nature and you will begin to prefer movement.
Helps maintain weight
While NEAT activity alone may not be enough for significant weight loss, it can help you maintain your weight by keeping you on your feet.
Enhances overall well-being
Incorporating NEAT activities into your daily life can enhance your overall sense of well-being, as they can help you develop a more active and engaged lifestyle.
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9 Ways to Increase Your NEAT During the Workday
So how do you go about seeing these benefits and increasing your NEAT during the workday? Here are nine habits you can start incorporating at work.
1. Skip the elevator
Take the stairs every morning when you get to the office and do the same when you leave for the day. Those extra few minutes of cardio can make a big difference in your caloric expenditure, cardiovascular health, and overall mobility.
2. Use a standing desk
You likely spend hours upon hours sitting at your desk each day. Consider using a standing desk or adjustable desk, so you can cut down on the time you’re hunched over a computer without impacting your schedule at all.
3. Take the long route
A few extra steps every hour add up. Take the long route from the parking garage to the office, from your desk to the restroom, and from your desk to your coworker’s.
4. Walk to your coworkers
Speaking of getting in extra steps, consider walking to your coworkers’ desks the next time you need something, rather than sending them a Slack or calling them from your desk phone.
5. Do leg lifts under your desk
Did you know that fidgeting counts as NEAT? Start doing some leg lifts under your desk any time you might normally find yourself fidgeting, for increased muscle tone.
6. Take breaks to pace around
Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to take a break each hour and simply pace around.
7. Hold walking meetings
If you’re planning a meeting with colleagues that doesn’t require laptops, make it a walking meeting, so you can get steps in and work done, all at once.
8. Stand during phone calls
Similarly, if you’re on a phone call and don’t need to reference something at your desk, simply stand up for the duration of the call or pace around your office.
9. Do light stretches at your desk
Work out stiffness and ease away stress by doing some light stretches or chair yoga at your desk.
The Bottom Line
Getting more NEAT is an effective way to improve your overall health. However, if you find yourself struggling to increase your NEAT and you want to work toward greater health goals, health coaching may be a good fit for you. An Arootah health coach can help you develop healthier habits, identify stumbling blocks, and expedite your journey to a healthier, happier you.
Schedule a complimentary coaching call today to learn how our coaches can help you.