Hey it’s Chris here from Athlete X Strength and Conditioning. I’m a PT and S&C coach based out of Belfast/Lisburn and I’m going to take a look at the importance of NEAT. Maybe you mostly use the word neat when you order your drinks after a hard week at work but we’re going to take a look at a different kind of NEAT here - Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. So what is it? Essentially, it is the amount of calories you burn through everyday activity outside of your specified exercise. Think walking the dog, taking the stairs, gardening, housework, impatiently tapping your feet while you wait for the next GoFyt Workout Wednesday to be released - any type of movement you can think of really! Each day the energy you spend can be split into 4 categories: your basic metabolic rate (these are the calories you burn just from existing), calories burnt through exercise, calories burnt through digesting any food you eat and calories burnt from non-exercise activity (NEAT). Nowadays a lot of people have the exercise part sorted or, at the very least, are aware of the positive impacts of exercise. What you might not realise is that working out a few times a week may not lead to as healthy a change as you anticipate if your NEAT is low. There are 168 hours in a week - even if you exercise 1 hour every day, that is only 4% of your time. The reality is, if you are inactive for a significant amount of the remaining time a lot of the benefits from exercise will be lost. Sitting is fast becoming known as the new smoking and here’s just a short list of the impacts too much sitting and inactivity has on our bodies: Calorie burning drops…a lot Significant drop in HDL (the good cholesterol!) - not all cholesterol is bad but unfortunately inactivity reduces the good stuff and allows the bad ones to take over. Increased tightness in hip flexors, back and neck Reduced lung and heart efficiency - i.e. more chance of heart disease All this is just from sitting! Now it’s no secret how good exercise is for you, but maybe it’s not so well known how beneficial even the smallest amounts of activity can be. Day to day NEAT plays a crucial role in ensuring we maintain an energy balance and therefore maintain a healthy bodyweight - and all the benefits this brings. NEAT can make up as little as 15% of daily calorie expenditure in the very sedentary or as much as 50% in the very active - a huge difference which can be the difference between keeping weight at a healthy level or not. But the benefits of NEAT extend far beyond weight management. Here’s how: Ramps up production of HDL, reversing one of the impacts of sitting. Cholesterol is often portrayed as bad but actually not of all of it is - HDL (or High Density Lipoprotein) is like a nightclub bouncer for your body. It will patrol your bloodstream and shuttle any bad cholesterol to your liver to be expelled from your body. This is a crucial unseen aspect of everyday activity. Reduces fatigue and sluggishness. How can moving more make you less tired? A lot of the time, fatigue and sluggish feels are mostly mental! By carrying out a short bit of activity or movement you will increase your heart rate and blood flow. This increased blood flow will quickly benefit the brain and a short time later you will feel more alert, awake and centred, getting rid of those pesky sluggish feelings. Improves mental health. Exercise is well known for being one of the best medications for mental health. You can get exactly the same benefits simply by moving more throughout the day. Getting some fresh air or 15mins of sunshine can be enough to get you out of any rut you find yourself stuck in, reduce stress levels and put you in a better mood through the release of endorphins - the chemicals in the brain responsible for making us feel good. Increases productivity. Do you find yourself struggling to complete a task at hand or lacking motivation? Taking a short break and going for a quick walk, taking a few trips up the stairs or banging out a set of squats could be all you need to do to return to your work refocused and ready to work in a more productive manner. Creative thinking has even been shown to spike after even just a 15 minute walk! In short, NEAT is crucial in maintaining a healthy body weight, improving key health markers , improving productivity and has mental health benefits to boot as well. Our bodies are made to move and if we’re not doing enough this can directly and/or indirectly impact on our family life, career, mindset and creativity, never mind our health. So get out, get active and mix movement into everyday life - buy a bike, try out a new social sport, tap your feet, take the stairs and, of course, sign up to the next GoFyt Limitless event. If you’re interested keeping up to date with Athlete X for more content on strength & conditioning, nutrition and performance then check out the following channels. FB: facebook.com/athleteXNI/ Instagram: AthleteX_NI
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