NEAT Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

Home > NEAT Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis for Exercise and Fitness

NEAT Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

It is a feature of modern life that much of our technology is designed to make life easier for us. When we enter a store the doors open automatilally. To move between floors we use an elevator or escalator. The combined effect of this technology in our lives is that we do much less physical work than in previous generations.

Research (1) has shown that in most western countries the population is becoming more obese, in spite of consuming a similar quantity of calories over a period of time. The problem is that our calorie intake now contains a higher proportion of fat, and our physical activity has declined. Diet control alone is not enough to keep us fit and healthy. We need to replace the physical activity that was once part of our everyday lives. NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is one approach to changing our daily activity levels.

In recent years the drive to increase activity in the population has focused on promoting formal fitness and exercise activities and regimes. People have been encouraged to join fitness clubs and organizations, and to take part in public sporting events such as marathons and fun runs. While this is very effective for some people, it presents problems to large sections of the population.


Problems associated with formal exercise activity include

  • the cost of joining fitness and sports clubs
  • the difficulty in fitting a tightly defined exercise schedule into an already busy lifestyle
  • the social pressures felt by some people how have difficulty in mixing with others or exercising in public

NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is one solution which avoids many of these problems by including exercise in people's normal lifestyle. This involves putting the pyhsical effort back into everyday activities, and improving our fitness by exercising as we live. Activities which can be used as part of a NEAT strategy include

  • using stairs instead of elevators and escalators
  • walking to local venues where the journey will take less than 15 minutes (or more if you have the time)
  • never using buttons to open automatic doors - always push or pull them
  • in work, walk to another office or department to talk to someone rather than phone them if you have the time
  • get off a bus two stops before your destination
  • any other physical activity that you can fit into your normal living pattern so you exercise without disrupting your day

It takes a little time to plan how NEAT will work in your life, but if you make the effort the benefits in terms of fitness, exercise opportunities and health will be immense. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis or NEAT is something everyone can do.

(1) De Agostini, Paola (May 2007) ‘Diet composition, socio-economic status and food outlet
development in Britain’, ISER Working Paper 2007-09. Colchester: University of Essex.