Those closest to me know that one of my primary focuses this year is to break many bad dietary and physical habits in order to gain control of my health and lose 8 year’s worth of excess weight. As a web developer and systems administrator, this can be a difficult task given that I normally spend at least 8 hours a day sitting at a computer. For those computer-sitting professionals out there like me looking to make healthier lifestyle choices, one good habit to pick up is something called NEAT.
The kinesiological acronym NEAT stands for Non-excercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is basically any movement that you make that is not related to excercise. From fidgeting, to stretching, to twirling your hair, any physical motion burns calories, and the more calories burned, the more weight you lose. While not a practice that should replace excercise, it’s a good compliment to your daily routine.
Since I heard about NEAT from my brother the doctor two months ago, I started trying to consciously do small movements while at my computer. Weather it’s tapping my foot, stretching my back, swirling my desk chair side to side, chewing gum, pacing while talking on my phone, or some other movement, I try to constantly be moving some part of my body when I’m at work. It doesn’t take much effort, and the benefits are tremendous. Studies have found that implementing NEAT, even for the most sedentary of people, can significantly reduce rates of obesity and cardiovascular events, while burning anywhere from 350 to 2000 extra calories a day. This translates to up to 30 pounds worth of calories a year. Furthermore, those who actively fidget and do other NEAT movements regularly have a significantly lower body mass than people on the same diet who don’t commit NEAT movements.
After reading about NEAT, I started trying to consiously be fidgeting constantly while at my computer, and now that I’m about a month into developing NEAT as a habit, it’s become subconscious. In that same time span, I’ve dropped twelve pounds. I’m not going to say it’s directly because of NEAT since I’ve also been dieting and excercising religiously, but I’m also not going to say that NEAT didn’t help.
So if you are a person who works behind a computer for a living, and you’d like a little thing to help take more positive control of your life, try doing NEAT movements as a hack to improve your health.