Exercise is Important but so is Getting NEAT!

Little things add up. This post is about something called NEAT. Can you think of the everyday activities you do now that used to require movement? If you’re of a certain age you will remember. Others might be scratching their head—life without a smart phone?!

Remember when?

  • The phone rang and you had to get up to answer it? It was attached to the wall—horrors!
  • We had rotary phones and dialing involved more than just pushing a few buttons? (Didn’t you hate when someone had a 9 in their phone number? Ugh, it took forever for the dial to rotate back.)
  • You had to roll down a car window—actually hold a knob and make your hand move?
  • You wanted to change the TV channel? Was your household like mine growing up, “Jennifer, go change the channel.”
  • There were no drive-through windows?
  • You weren’t buried in technology—communication was face-to-face?
  • There were manual typewriters? The class you took was Typing, not Keyboarding.
  • There were no Swiffers® to make dusting easier?
  • Housekeepers and lawn services were only employed by wealthy people?
  • You had to walk to someone’s office to talk because there was no email?
  • You had to go to the county library or look up in your encyclopedia because Google® wasn’t invented until 1998?

Of course we can’t blame the automation of our lives on the tsunami of weight gain seen in the past few decades. However those little activities certainly added up to the calories burned in daily activity.

Consider where you are now

If you are doing absolutely nothing, do something. It doesn’t matter what it is—move your body.

My clients are at different levels. For some, our weekly goal started at just ten minutes, three times per week.

If you are currently getting 150 minutes of moderate intense activity per week and not seeing the results you want, consider kicking it up a notch.

It’s no secret that regular, sustained exercise is important, especially for fitness and lasting weight loss. Remember, though, other activities of daily life add up.

Years ago when I started working from home I experienced a huge decline in my daily movement and my clothes got snug. Oops.

Among other changes, one thing I never do anymore is look for the closest spot when parking. I actually will pass empty spots to park further away—all the time. Every bit of extra activity helps.

What can you do? Get NEAT

  • Lose the remote?
  • Leave your phone in another room?
  • Park in a distant corner of the lot?
  • Make two trips to the laundry room instead of one?
  • Give your housekeeper a break and save some money?
  • Take the stairs or get off an elevator one or two flights below your floor?
  • Instead of piling items at the bottom of the stairs at home, immediately take them up?
© Paha_l | Dreamstime.com

© Paha_l | Dreamstime.com

Those are just a few ideas—of course, there are many more ways. Actually there’s a fancy NEAT name for it—Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It refers to all the activity in our life that is not related to exercise. Neat, huh?

What other NEAT ways can you get extra activity in?

  • Deliver a message to your colleague in person versus calling or emailing.
  • Use the restroom that is on another floor or further away in your home or office.
  • Mow your own lawn and don’t use the self-propel feature.
  • Go to the store versus shopping online.
  • Rake the leaves. (I just did this yesterday!)
  • Nix the drive-thru and order inside. No, I am not encouraging fast food, but if you’re going to do it anyway, might as well move a little.
  • Walk around while talking on the phone.
  • Stand if you can versus sit. Sit versus lie down on the couch relaxing.
  • Wash and wax your car. (Or if you’re in the Dallas area, you can do mine!)

Tell me, what ideas do you have? What NEAT activity do you regularly engage in?


Photo credit: pixabay.com

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach



  1. Jane HM

    Love this!! When I can’t get to the gym, I feel guilty, so it makes sense to NEAT more often through my day… it makes me feel less guilty too by the end of the day. Especially stairs instead of escalator/elevator….

    • Neily

      I get that! I never look for the closest spot in a parking lot. Find one and park! Working from home makes it especially challenging. Thanks for posting 🙂 -Neily


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