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NEAT; Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis

Our societal addiction to the “seat” is quite possibly more costly with morbidity, mortality, and chronic health disorders. A seated based labor force has developed with the multitude of advancements in technology over the past 30 years. The current daily cardiovascular exercise recommendations state moderate-to-vigorous exercise be performed at minimum of 30 minutes 3-5 days per week. Separate of time spent exercising a significant amount of evidence indicates prolonged daily sitting and other sedentary habits are connected with all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. Roughly 69% of American’s currently do not meet the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity, and of those who do, most likely spend a large portion of their day sitting. Prolonged sedentary behaviors may negate the positive health benefits associated with daily physical activity and exercise.

Research indicates that nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), or the energy expenditure related to all physical activities outside of purposeful exercise, plays a significant role in fostering health. NEAT activities can be as simple as standing while talking on the telephone, lead to muscle contractions that positively affect fat metabolism. Multiple negative metabolic alterations are linked with low amounts of NEAT. For instance, lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that performs a vital part in how the body processes fats, has been shown to be significantly diminished by prolonged inactive behaviors. Lowered lipoprotein lipase levels also are associated with increased cardiovascular mortality and contribute to the development of lipid disorders, insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. Performing simple muscle stimulating activities such as standing erect increases lipoprotein lipase levels thus positively affecting energy expenditure and metabolism.

Increasing the amount of NEAT related daily activities is crucial to an individual’s health. Contemplate periodic standing or movement breaks; stand and pace while talking on the phone; arrange the home or work office so you have to get up at various intervals to retrieve items or complete a task; install a standing desk or treadmill workstation for computer/office work; walk to deliver messages. Basically look for ways to increase physical activity throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is for every 30 minutes of sitting performed an individual should standup and perform at least 30 seconds of a NEAT related physical activity.

Greg Stanley, MS, NSCA-CSCS, ACSM-CES/HFS
ACSM-Exercise is Medicine® Credential Level II
Exercise Physiologist

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