If you miss the bus and have to walk or you’re lugging clothes to the laundromat, you may not brag to anyone about it, like you would about a cycling trip or running a 5K. But you may not realize that those activities and chores are actually a workout. And there’s even a name for this undercover physical activity: non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT.
It includes a broad range of things, from walking the dog to doing the dishes to cleaning out the garage. And it all counts as exercise and it all burns calories. As one study explains it, “activities that create movement will enhance caloric expenditure.” The focus with fitness is often on high-intensity workouts, and while workouts that get your heart rate up are important, NEAT is also beneficial. And it’s easy to work more of this overlooked form of movement into our routines, which is especially helpful for those who never set foot in a gym or touch a treadmill.
There’s a saying in the fitness world: “the best exercise is the one you will do” and that’s definitely true of NEAT. Staying active during the day is more achievable when you think of it in terms of “background exercise.”You’re probably already doing a lot of these forms of NEAT that burn more than 100 calories an hour and they all add up:
- Cleaning out storage space/garage
- Grocery shopping
- Sweeping or vacuuming
- Climbing stairs
- Pushing a stroller
- Playing fetch with the dog
- Gardening or weeding
- Washing the car
- Walking to work
- Watching TV on a standing bike