Can a Little Fidgeting Help You Drop a Few Kilos?

NEAT refers to the energy that is expended on tasks when you are not sleeping or actively engaging in a workout.

Flex 'em
3 min read
Hindi Female

Urban lifestyle has ensured that most of our days leave us tied to our desks. Irrespective of the havoc the ensuing posture wreaks on our back, wrists, necks, to name only a few issues, there is little escape from it.

The road becomes steeper if you are also looking to get active, whether to lose weight or as part of an overall holistic approach to fitness.

However, look and behold before despair takes over! Here’s NEAT or what is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis which could just be the lifestyle change to get you moving, whether away from or at your desk.

What is NEAT?

Simply put, NEAT refers to the energy that is expended on tasks when you are not sleeping or actively engaging in a workout.

Think of micro-activities that make up your day - typing, playing with a fidget spinner, gardening, walking from your desk to the washroom, and so on.

With a little extra attention to these, you can increase your overall calorie burn in a notable manner, contributing to your daily NEAT, states Dr Vinayak D Ghanate, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Manipal Hospital, Baner, Pune.

Is NEAT Truly Beneficial?

“NEAT plays a pivotal role in the regulation of energy expenditure and body weight”, adds Dr Vinayak D Ghanate. “There is mounting evidence suggesting that NEAT is critical in determining a person's susceptibility to body fat deposition, and is a major factor in obesity. People with similar calorie consumption and work can have lean or obese physiques simply due to difference in their NEAT profile.”

Dr Ghanate mentions that someone who is consciously working towards increasing their NEAT by small capsules of exercise the whole day has shown to burn an additional 350 kcal per day!


How to Increase Your Daily NEAT?

While you can go about finding your own little bursts of energy-expenditure and capsules of movement, Dr Tarun Lala, Zonal Head, Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Medicine, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, suggests the 20-20 rule where every twenty minutes, you get up and take a 20 metre walk.

If this is still a lot to incorporate right at the beginning, because who are we kidding? If we really could get up from our work desks every 20 minutes, we wouldn’t be here talking about NEAT right now, would we?

In that scenario, Dr Lala has some more suggestions to offer:


● Whenever you remember to, relax your shoulders and rotate them clockwise and anti-clockwise.

● Relax your neck by stretching and holding the stretch for 10-20 seconds.

● Gently turn your torso at the waist and hold for a few seconds.

● Tucking in your tummy with your breath while reaching out to pick anything will help in activating core muscles.

● Park the vehicle a little farther, increasing the number of steps you have to walk to your office.

● Use stairs and avoid lift, if feasible.

● Go for a short walk post lunch, if time permits.

● Walk up to people in your office instead of a phone call.

● When taking calls, walk around while talking.


Dr Lala reasserts that these small changes are especially beneficial and useful for all corporate employees and people with desk jobs.

Additionally, Dr Ghanate comments, people with desk jobs can develop individual strategies to promote standing and ambulating time by around 2-2.5 hours per day, and re-engineer work, school, and home environments to render an active lifestyle.

Who is NEAT Most Appropriate For?

In a nutshell, it is a healthy choice for any and everyone, irrespective of the body type.

Increasing NEAT is recommended for people with high body fat deposition and weight. It is also important for people with average weight and body type to maintain an active lifestyle.
Dr Vinayak D Ghanate, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Manipal Hospital, Baner, Pune.

Further, Dr Ghanate says, people with obesity, or problems related to weight, inactivity, are more prone to developing medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Incorporating NEAT would also help with the abeyance and management of these medical issues, he concludes.

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Topics:  Weight Loss   Exercise   workout 

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