Ever feel like working out is a complete chore? Sometimes, there’s just not enough hours in the day to fit in a quality workout session. And other times, you may just not feel like it. But, there’s good news! Science confirms that there are other ways to burn calories without a gym by utilizing NEAT.
NEAT is an anagram coined by Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine that stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the scientific term describing the body’s production of heat. NEAT is the energy expended for everything that is not sleeping, eating, or sport-like exercise.1 This means that there are other avenues of increasing your metabolic rate that do not necessarily involve going to the gym. Even just making a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle can boost your individual NEAT. For example, the energy you expend walking to work, typing on a keyboard, doing yardwork, and even fidgeting count as NEAT.
By Levine’s calculations, a person who spends 30 minutes walking briskly during the day, 30 minutes strolling after work, 5 minutes swiftly climbing stairs, and 90 minutes simply on their feet in the office or at home is on their way to burning about 500 extra calories per day. That is about as much as a 155-lb. person expends while cycling moderately on a stationary bike for an hour.
Even some household tasks are surprisingly intensive. For instance, when you make a bed, you use roughly the same amount of energy as you do when you walk. Other worthwhile everyday moves for burning calories include carrying groceries, hoeing a garden and shoveling outdoors, handwashing clothes or dishes, cleaning the kitchen, and sweeping or mopping.2