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In 2002, Dr. James Levine proposed a new approach to health and fitness. He referred to it non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT. In his seminal paper, Levine described NEAT accordingly as:

“…the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sporting-like exercise. NEAT includes all those activities that render us vibrant, unique and independent beings…”

In other words, he redefined exercise, turning it on its head and making us look at it in a way we have never thought of before.

What are NEAT Exercises?

Neat exercises cover a wide range of activities that comprise our regular lives. In fact, they can include anything that is not defined as eating, sleeping, or sports-like exercise. Being NEAT means you can do or take part in all or any of the following actions:

  • Dancing
  • Shoveling snow
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Typing
  • Performing yard work
  • Gardening
  • Playing the guitar


How does NEAT Work?

According to Levine and followers who include Dr. Oz, the body doesn’t specifically define anything as exercise. Doing activities that fall into the NEAT category can actually burn off calories. How much? Dr. Levine states the average amount can range from 330 calories to approximately 700 calories a day. In fact, Levine has argued further in favor of NEAT. He believes it can actually burn around 1000 calories a day if the individual effectively incorporates it into their lifestyle—from work to play.

The theory of NEAT is that even minor and seemingly trivial pursuits actually increase your metabolic rate. When all these smaller activities are combined, they present a significant amount of calories burned. This is your total day NEAT. Moreover, according to NEAT theory, our bodies appear to regulate NEAT activities in accordance with body weight. Evidence in some physiological studies indicates that when individuals overeat, they increase the level of NEAT. When they are underfed, they decrease NEAT.

What does NEAT do?

NEAT is a form of weight maintenance or even reduction. Yet, one of its main benefits is that it prevents us from being totally sedentary. When you sit around the house, you’re subscribing to a sedentary lifestyle and increasing your propensity or susceptibility for certain diseases and even an early death. Lack of any form of exercise can lead to obesity and an increased risk of diabetes. You also put yourself in danger of cardiovascular problems.

How to Improve Your NEAT

You can improve your level of NEAT by personally washing your floors and doing other forms of household chores such as sweeping and vacuuming. Other ways to look at increasing your NEAT may involve the following:{#/wp-content/uploads/images/photo_4050_20071107.jpg}

  • Take up a new hobby such as gardening
  • Take a stroll after your meals
  • Hold your meetings on the walk
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible
  • Walk or bike to work


Increasing your NEAT is one way to lead a healthier life. This is particularly true if you combine it with a proper diet. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can wreak havoc on your health. If you stop and look at the small ways you can change this through, NEAT, you can make a big change in your present and future health.


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