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  • Philippa Evans

The ‘NEAT’ way to exercise


I have a confession. I’m really not a gym fan. I can see their use on a cold, dark winter’s evening, when the rain is lashing down, but I’d rather be outdoors breathing in the fresh air, moving towards a real destination, and seeing life around me.


If like me, you struggle to get excited about traditional forms of exercise, there is an easier way to move more.



NEAT or Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is the energy we use when doing anything that isn’t sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. Those everyday activities we probably don’t even think about; like moving round the kitchen when cooking, walking to the shops or hoovering. This form of activity increases our metabolic rate and can add significant energy expenditure over time.


As well as the physical benefits of increased activity, our mental health can benefit too. Increased mood, self esteem and energy levels and reduced stress, depression and anxiety can all be experienced.


Many of us are more sedentary than ever with more of us working from home, bound to our desks, shopping online and staying in to stay safe, so it’s harder to find the opportunities to be active. But if you can build small activities into things you do already, you’ll create habits which will take far less conscious effort and willpower to do. Do you find that brushing your teeth takes a lot of willpower? Probably not, because it’s a habit we’ve created and usually do on autopilot.


Feeling inspired? Here are some small ways you can add more NEAT into your life.


Utilise the time you spend queueing. You’ve probably spent more time queueing in the last few months than ever before, so use this as a NEAT opportunity. Step from side to side, do some calf raises, knee lifts or some small stretches.


Taking the stairs whenever you can has to be on this list, but don’t forget that walking down them will bring benefits too!


Stand more. Stand or walk whilst talking on the phone. Choose to stand on public transport. Invest in a standing desk or get creative with boxes and ironing boards! Your heart rate is higher while standing than sitting, so you are burning energy. It’s also great for your posture.


Break up your day. Set a regular alarm to remind you to take a short walk, do a few squats and lunges in between meetings or during the ad breaks when watching TV.


Get active in and around the house. Hoover, dust, iron, wash the dishes, wash the car, garden, get into a DIY project. Reframe your thoughts and think of the benefits these activities will have on your physical and mental health rather than seeing them as dull chores.


Enlist your colleagues, friends or family members to join you in moving more. Social support goes a long way in helping you stick to new habits.


A tiny shift in what you regularly do could make a huge difference to your health, and if you need a little support, I can help you to make simple, enjoyable changes that fit in with your life and your priorities. Contact me here.


Create your own movement mission!

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