How The NEAT Factor Can Help You Burn Extra Calories

Cindy Lee
woman walking up the stairsCindy Lee

When trying to lose weight, most people either begin exercising or increasing their usual workout. However, until recently, a whole system of weight loss seems to have been ignored; the idea that small movements can all add up to make a significant difference to our health.

You can burn calories by simply performing small movements and allowing your body to do what it does naturally. These calories burned all add up and help with weight loss and boost your metabolism.

What is NEAT?

The technical term for this is non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. NEAT includes all movements and body functions, so even when lying down and doing leg lifts or just watching TV while pushing some dumbbells, you are still burning some calories.

Research has found that individuals who have even moderately sedentary lifestyles, such as office workers, can lose more weight by simply incorporating a range of small movements in the typical working day.

Generally, those fitter and leaner individuals spend less of their day sitting while doing nothing and more of the day either actively working out or engaging in small movements. Clearly, by adding more of these small movements into your daily routine, you could see a big difference in your weight loss attempts.

What sort of small movements?
Calories burned at workCanva

The idea is that you introduce small changes to your day, so you are moving about slightly more. The primary examples include getting off the bus stop a stop earlier, walking over to your colleague to talk to them rather than emailing them, parking at the end of a car park, and walking that little bit further.

Even something as simple as standing up from your desk and having a quick stretch a few times a day can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, many of us have office-based jobs that involve sitting at a desk for long periods, which is not good for our health.

By incorporating small movements such as refilling the water bottle, talking to colleagues, and walking to the printer that is slightly further away, we increase the number of calories that we burn every day.

Many people are often told they should sit still and not fidget, that somehow fiddling is a bad thing to do. However, fidgeting can be an effective way to burn calories. All the time you are fidgeting, you are moving and adding to the number of calories you are burning each day.

Similarly, some people pace up and down when talking on the phone. Although this might be annoying, it is a good habit. Particularly if it is a long phone call, you can walk quite a few steps during this time. So, again, these small movements that you may not even realize are actually exercising that all add up, help burn calories, and boost your metabolism.

For those sitting down a lot, even small exercises that can be performed while you are sitting can make a difference. By simply raising your legs repeatedly, you increase the small number of movements you are doing.

To make the workout even more effective, you could add a small weight to your legs, such as a book or two. This would increase the workout and the number of calories that you can burn and boost your metabolism.

Another example of adding small exercises into your day is the dreaded housework. Many of us do not enjoy doing housework, but it can be an effective workout. By changing it slightly, you can increase the effort and the number of calories you burn each time.

For example, you can alternate the rooms you clean, which means you walk up and down the stairs more often.

Climbing stairs is one of the best workouts for a range of muscles; simply walking up and down the stairs at home can hugely increase the number of calories that you can burn. In addition, all this simply by doing the housework, which you would have to do anyway.

By increasing the small movements you do everyday, you can burn extra calories per day. And by burning more calories you can create a calorie deficit, which will result in weight loss.

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Cindy Lee is a freelance writer who has been working with writing challenged and busy clients for over four years. A former nurse, she specializes in health care and wellness. She is passionate about providing natural living advice in order to help others find alternative ways towards a healthier lifestyle. You can find her at

Ogden, UT

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