NEAT is non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is the energy we expend that is not from exercise, sleep, or eating/digesting. NEAT expends more energy daily than exercise does. Wild, right?! Out of all the ways you expend energy, exercise actually expends the least amount of energy in your day. Fortunately, the benefits of exercise greatly outweigh any amount of calorie burn (that's why I don't recommend paying too much attention to your intra-workout calorie burn). Although strength training is only one form of exercise, here is my post on all the strength training benefits in case you missed it in my email last month.
So if NEAT doesn't include exercise, sleep, or eating, what counts as NEAT?
All your other small movements throughout the day.
Walking, fidgeting, cleaning, showering, cooking, playing with your dog, chasing your kids, gardening, mowing, raking, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, carrying groceries, washing your car.
Okay you get the idea. All of these tasks require energy that likely don't induce a high heart or require tons of strength (depending on how many groceries you carry in at a time haha). This is NEAT. Non-exercise movement.
Aside from structured exercise goals, we've likely talked about "getting your steps in" or something similar. NEAT is what we're aiming for when we talk about this. Even without acknowledging the calorie burn portion of NEAT, participating in non-exercise movement is a healthy behavior.
This is why I, and other health professionals, encourage you to get up from your 8-hour desk shift frequently. This is why I encourage going on a lunchtime walk. This is why I encourage stretching throughout the day. NEAT can keep you more mobile and less stiff throughout the day and week.
If you're looking to increase your NEAT via steps, consider parking your car further away at the grocery store, taking the steps at work, or setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move throughout the day.
NEAT is pretty neat.
Alright no more dad jokes.