Is it possible that a neat person is not a NEAT person? Absolutely.
So what on earth am I talking about? Here is what the National Institute on Health has to say:
“Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual's daily NEAT. It is, therefore, not surprising that NEAT explains a vast majority of an individual's non-resting energy needs. Epidemiological studies highlight the importance of culture in promoting and quashing NEAT. Agricultural and manual workers have high NEAT, whereas wealth and industrialization appear to decrease NEAT. Physiological studies demonstrate, intriguingly, that NEAT is modulated with changes in energy balance; NEAT increases with overfeeding and decreases with underfeeding. Thus, NEAT could be a critical component in how we maintain our body weight and/or develop obesity or lose weight. The mechanism that regulates NEAT is unknown. However, hypothalamic factors have been identified that specifically and directly increase NEAT in animals. By understanding how NEAT is regulated we may come to appreciate that spontaneous physical activity is not spontaneous at all but carefully programmed.”
So NEAT is all the moving we do when we are not formally exercising. Even for regular exercisers with 2 hours of exercise every day and 8 hours of sleep, that leaves 14 hours during which we can do nothing or a lot.
Based on information in an NASM publication, I developed a metabolic profile tracker that gives points per hour for activities. It gives -1 for sitting or lying down (except sleep; that gets a 0), 0 for standing, +1 for normal moving, +2 for a little strenuous activity such as housework or a light workout, +3 for strenuous activity such as intense gardening (riding lawnmower does not count) or a strenuous workout, and a +4 when you knock yourself out. It is very revealing to see the times when we hardly move at all. If you would like a copy of this form, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So now let’s all try to become a neat NEAT person!