In pursuing a healthier lifestyle, many individuals focus primarily on structured exercise routines to burn calories and improve fitness. While exercise is undoubtedly crucial for overall well-being, there is another aspect of calorie burning that often goes overlooked – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). 

how to increase your NEAT from home

What is NEAT?

NEAT was first introduced by Dr. James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, to describe the calories burned through everyday movements other than sleeping, eating, and exercise. 

Unlike planned exercise sessions, NEAT is a spontaneous and unconscious form of physical activity that includes walking, gardening, standing, and even fidgeting. Boosting your NEAT while working from home is beneficial for your overall health.

NEAT can account for 15 to 30% of your overall daily caloric expenditure! Health benefits include weight management, improved posture, circulation, heart function, and overall metabolic health. Pretty NEAT, huh? (We couldn’t resist!)


How to Increase Your NEAT at Home

Hitting the gym, going for a run, or engaging in "organized exercise" is only a small portion of your day—one to two hours. Use the strategies below to increase your daily activity outside of your planned workouts to bump up NEAT.

Try Deskercise

Incorporate desk exercises like seated leg lifts, desk push-ups, or seated torso twists into your work routine. Use resistance bands or small weights for arm exercises while working.

Use a Standing Desk

Invest in a standing desk or create your own by elevating your monitor and keyboard on sturdy surfaces. Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day to keep your body active.

Walk During Your Meetings

Instead of sitting for virtual meetings, take them on the move. Use a hands-free device and pace around the room or walk outside.

Take a Mini Break

Set a timer to remind yourself to take short breaks every hour. Use this time to stretch, walk around, or do quick exercises.

Dance Breaks

Take short dance breaks to your favorite music. It's a fun way to boost your heart rate and energy levels.

Add Stair Climbing

If you have stairs at home, take short breaks to climb up and down. It's a great way to engage different muscle groups.

Engage in Active Commuting

If possible, simulate a commute by walking or biking around your neighborhood before starting and after finishing work.

Do Household Chores

Incorporate household chores into your work routine. For example, do a load of laundry during a short break.

Try Yoga or Stretching

Integrate quick yoga sessions or stretching routines during breaks to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness.

Get Fidgety

Use a stability ball as a chair to engage your core muscles and encourage subtle movements. Or just bounce away! Consider using a fidget device to keep your hands active while working.

DIY a Standing Desk Treadmill

If you have a treadmill, consider creating a makeshift standing desk to work while walking slowly.

Get Outside and Garden

Spend short breaks tending to plants and flowers or harvesting your garden.

Do Calf Raises and Squats

Taking a phone call? Do calf raises or squats while waiting for documents to print or while chatting.

Add Mindful Breathing

Incorporate deep breathing exercises into your routine to reduce stress and increase mindfulness.


Final Tips For Increasing Your NEAT

Start small and gradually increase the intensity and duration of these activities. A timer or phone alarm is a great tool when starting out, especially for hyper-work-focused people. 

Remember that the key to consistency is finding activities you enjoy and can easily integrate into your work routine. If you don’t enjoy dancing, that strategy will likely not work. Perhaps you’d prefer to chase your toddler around the room!

This holistic approach to wellness encourages you to embrace spontaneous movement and planned exercise. Find your daily groove with the NEAT strategies above and unlock your body's full potential for improved health and vitality.