Looking to Lose Weight? That's Pretty NEAT

The percentage of energy expended above rest for various activities.

The percentage of energy expended above rest for various activities.

Many Americans often have the goal to lose weight but may struggle when they are not seeing the results they want. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is an important consideration when the goal is to increase physical activity and lose weight. NEAT is defined as the energy we spend doing everything that is NOT sleeping, eating, or sport-like exercise. This might include walking to and from your desk at work, vacuuming the house, or even grocery shopping. NEAT is important for the maintenance of body weight and is specifically critical for gaining or losing weight. While purposeful dieting and exercise are important, NEAT can be used to help burn additional calories.

So how exactly can NEAT be used to lose weight? For starters, it is important to note that 1 pound of body fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. In other words, in order to lose a pound of fat, we would need to see a deficiency of 3500 calories to our overall expenditure. Increasing our NEAT by 200 calories per day (equal to walking 2 miles) and decreasing our calorie intake by 300 calories per day (equal to 12oz. soda or small bag of chips) will provide us with a daily deficit of 500 calories per day. If this is done over the course of a week, or 7 days, we will end with a deficit of 3500 calories, or 1 pound of fat lost for the week!

Increasing your NEAT can be a creative process for losing weight. Below are a few examples of NEAT:

-Parking farther away from the grocery store or work. This provides an opportunity to get a few extra steps.

-When the opportunity is there, take the stairs! Taking the stairs burns 7 times more energy than taking the elevator.

-Standing versus sitting. Try standing during tv commercials. Over the course of a 60 minute TV show, that is about 15 minutes that you could be burning more calories by standing.

-Have a pedometer? Aim to get 10,000 steps in a day.

-Sitting on a stability ball. The constant action and bouncing burns more energy than sitting and also works on building muscles in your core.

The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing consultations specific to exercise, nutrition, and goal setting. Additionally, we can provide support for increasing your NEAT, losing weight, and adhering to living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: 6 Things to Know About Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Pete McCall – American Council on Exercise – November 21, 2017.; Levine, J. (2002). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology, 16(4), 679-702.; 6 Reasons to Take the Stairs. Yasmine Ali – VerywellHealth– September 10, 2016.; Levine, J., Vander Weg, M., Hill, J., & Klesges, R. (2006). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis: The crouching tiger hidden dragon of societal weight gain. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 26, 729-736.

Increasing Physical Activity for Those with Type 2 Diabetes

Individuals with type 2 diabetes spend a lot of their time sitting and typically do not meet the recommendations for physical activity. Additionally, research has found that they often struggle with sustaining physical activity over time. Recently, researchers highlighted the importance of increasing physical activity and noted that receiving behavioral counseling specialized to exercise can make a significant difference. They found that those who received regular counseling from an exercise specialist improved their health habits. The counseling centered around teaching individuals how to move more and sit less. Compared to those who only received advice from a physician once a year, these individuals saw improved health outcomes.

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Research has continued to support the finding that prolonged sitting time can have a negative effect on our health and increase the risk of mortality. These findings suggest that starting small and reducing sedentary time can be an effective way of incorporating physical activity. The exercise specialists in the study worked to promote physical activity in two steps. First, they worked on decreasing sedentary time by substituting it with a wide range of light-intensity physical activity. Second, they incorporated more purposeful moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity. Over the course of three years, they were able to increase their weekly physical activity, engage in more physical activity per day, and spend less time sedentary per day.

The results of the current study can have important implications for those with type 2 diabetes. They suggest that it can be difficult to increase physical activity on your own, with only the recommendation of a physician. Those who were most successful at increasing their physical activity and improving their health engaged in regular meetings with an exercise specialist. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing an exercise specialist who is willing to meet with you to help increase physical activity and reduce sedentary time. Additionally, we can help by providing support for adhering to living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: ‘Move More, Sit Less’ Counseling Can Change Habits in Diabetes. Marlene Busko– Medscape– March 5, 2019.; Balducci, S., D’Errico, V., Haxhi, J., et al. (2019).  Effect of a behavioral intervention strategy on sustained change in physical activity and sedentary behavior in patients with type 2 diabetes.  Journal of American Medical Association, 321(9), 880-890.

Reduced Sitting Time May Help Improve Blood Pressure and Glucose

Americans spend more than 50% of their waking day sitting.  This can be especially prevalent in a work environment, particularly those with desk jobs.  Research has supported the finding that prolonged sitting is a risk factor for both all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.  Additionally, sitting has been found to be associated with high blood pressure, impaired glucose tolerance, and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

The four groups compared in the study.

The four groups compared in the study.

Recently, researchers looked to test the effects of various physical activity interventions aimed at reducing sitting time and improving health outcomes.  The four groups examined in their study include: 1) SIT – 9 hours of prolonged sitting, 2) 30-min MOD – 30 minutes of moderate-intensity walking performed mid-day, 3) 2-min MOD – 21 x 2 minute bouts of moderate-intensity walking performed every 20 minutes (42 minutes total), and 4) 2-min VIG – 8 x 2 minute bouts of vigorous-intensity walking performed once every hour.  Participants included both men and women classified as overweight/obese who were physically inactive. 

They found that both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity walking performed in 2 minute bouts had a significant effect on reducing blood glucose.  The group that showed the greatest results with both reduced blood glucose and reduced systolic blood pressure was the group that walked for 30 minutes mid-day.  Overall, the researchers conclude that in order to see improved health outcomes, we should reduce sitting time throughout the day.  While walking for 30 minutes over a lunch period can provide beneficial results, adding 2 minute breaks of walking every hours can help improve health outcomes.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing consultations specific to exercise and goal setting.  We can help assist with providing support for reducing sitting time and living a healthier life.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources:  Bhammar, D., Sawyer, B., Tucker, N., & Gaesser, G. (2017).  Breaks in sitting time:  Effects on continuously monitored glucose and blood pressure.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 49(10), 2119-2130.


Physical Activity as a "Prescription" for Type 2 Diabetes with Cardiovascular Disease

Most individuals with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are not physically active. However, researchers have recently found that regular exercise can help reduce the risk of death for people with these co-morbidities. Clinicians explained that having type 2 diabetes can double the risk of premature death. They have found, however, that individuals who are more fit can see a reduced risk for the chances of premature death. In fact, the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EPAC) actually recommends exercise or physical activity as a “prescription” for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This recommendation comes with the goal of reducing premature death.


Using exercise as a prescription for treating type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be an effective way of increasing your life expectancy. Clinicians outline that exercise training should be included in the treatment plan for those with both diagnoses. The benefits of adding physical activity and exercise to your lifestyle include improved glucose control, blood pressure, lipid status, and body composition. Additionally, they emphasize that because these individuals are at an increased risk for premature death, they need more than just medication. A personalized exercise plan can help improve overall health.

Before beginning exercise, it is important to assess for co-morbidities, exercise risks, and personal preferences. It is recommended that individuals start at a low intensity, such as walking. Clinicians explain that the goal of increasing physical fitness is to improve glucose regulation for those with type 2 diabetes. The emphasis is not just on weight loss but also improved outcomes for the disease. An important piece of adding exercise to your treatment plan is to monitor your motivation for long-term adherence. Adding physical activity can not only help with the treatment of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but can also improve your overall health and reduce the risk of premature death. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing healthy lifestyle consultations specific to exercise and goal-setting. Further, we can assist with providing support for maintaining adherence and decreasing the risk of mortality.

By Matt Lewandowski

Sources: Kemps, H., et al. (2019). Exercise training for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What to pursue and how to do it. A position paper of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC). European Journal of Preventive Cardiology;New Paper: How to Get Patients with Diabetes/CVD Moving. Marlene Busko,Medscape, January 22, 2019; MetkusJr., T., Baughman, K., & Thompson, P. (2010). Exercise prescription and primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 121(23), 2601-2604