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What is NEAT

Published on: May 13, 2022
5 min Read
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NEAT’s Role in Lowering Your Sugar Levels

Ever wondered why our ancestors ate all the rice, rotis, and mangoes they wanted and remained fit and healthy? Or why there has been an increase in the rate of lifestyle metabolic disorders in the past few decades? It’s obviously got to do with the cholesterol, carbohydrate, and fat-rich food that we eat. But another modifiable factor that it has to do with is movement. Whether it was for the work commute, household chores, or going to buy groceries. They were constantly on the move. However, rapid urbanization and other factors have also made a sedentary lifestyle extremely common. Leading to a significant reduction in daily physical activity. But don’t worry, all is not lost. There is a simple solution to fix this. And it is NEAT – Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. And it can help you control your blood sugar levels. let’s find out how. 

Exercise offers a 360-degree benefit to your health. It is a well-known fact that exercise in any form boosts your metabolism which further helps you in maintaining your body weight. When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, physical exercise can increase insulin sensitivity which helps reduce your blood sugar levels. You can start with something as simple as a 30 min brisk walk and add some strength training to build muscle. As muscles help glucose absorption. 

What is NEAT?

Metabolic lifestyle health conditions such as hypertension, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, PCOS, etc are rising. The management and treatment for all these conditions require lifestyle changes, which include increased physical activity.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT is your energy expenditure by physical activities other than sports-like exercise or high-intensity fitness training. To put it simply, it means activities that are part of your daily life like walking, standing, walking your dog, gardening, playing with your child, going grocery shopping climbing the stairs, or cleaning the house. 

The Positive Impact of NEAT on Your Body

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of lifestyle diseases. Many of us spend at least 8 – 12 hours per day sitting on a chair, glued to our laptop screens with no physical activity. Often this also means we don’t have time for exercise. But what if you didn’t have to take out extra time and still met your physical activity goal for the day? This is where NEAT comes in. 

NEAT doesn’t follow a structured exercise way but envelops the exercises that revolve around your routine. Structured exercises require you to dedicate certain time from your schedule. Also, the pressure or stress of keeping your exercise goals may add to the stress of managing the health condition. Not to mention the added expense of buying training accessories and clothes, hunting for an expert or a professional/ gym, and traveling to the venue. In NEAT, you don’t have to exert yourself in all these time-consuming activities but that said, it requires your mental and mindful involvement to fit it into your day’s routine. NEAT produce efficient results only if you follow a discipline in include it in your routine.  It is sustainable if you make a conscious effort. 

NEAT or non-exercise activities are a low effort but a beneficial strategy for someone who wants to increase their daily physical activity. It increases your metabolism and burns extra calories but also reduces the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular events. 

What are the activities that come under NEAT that should be part of your daily schedule?

Walk the stairs – Instead of jumping into a lift, walk the stairs. Taking the stairs every once in a while can up your energy, improve your balance, and resting heart rate, and build upper body strength and endurance. It also helps build muscles, which is important to lower blood sugar levels. 

Walk the talk – Yes, you heard it right. When on the phone or binge-watching your new favorite series, do not sit in one place. Get on your feet and walk around. Walking can boost your metabolism, improve cardiovascular fitness, reduce the risk of metabolic health conditions, reduces stress, and even improve your mood and quality of sleep. 

Cleaning the house – Cleaning a house is a great form of exercise. Cleaning involves tidying your house, washing different rooms, windows, and doors, and dusting or scrubbing the surfaces. All these activities require a great deal of movement and increase your heart rate as aerobic exercise would. Mopping, sweeping, and dusting work out your upper body and lower body while burning additional calories. 

Park your car a little away from your workplace – If you’ve read Atomic Habits by James Clear, you would know the positives and negatives of environmental design. You can start on a positive habit by designing your environment that will support you to make the habit sustainable. Tweaking the design of the environment to change your behavior, can act as a trigger to inculcate a new habit or break a negative habit as per James. For example, parking your car, a little away will push you towards walking to the area where you parked it. Try incorporating small and sustainable behavioral changes like these to ensure that you get a daily quota of NEAT in your life. 

NEAT – A Critical Analyst in Lowering your Blood Sugar Levels

Physical activity or exercise is one of the modifiable factors affecting type 2 diabetes. The positive effects of NEAT for someone with Type 2 diabetes are as follows: 

  • Increase in insulin sensitivity
  • Reduces risk of  developing metabolic conditions
  • Is easy to start and sustain
  • Helps maintain a healthy body weight

Is it Enough? 

For someone who is at high risk for developing lifestyle diseases, has prediabetes, is newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, or has a history of pain that prevents them to do high-intensity workouts, NEAT can be a great option. However, for someone who is dealing with obesity and type 2 diabetes at the same time. NEAT is not enough. This is where diabetes or weight loss management program comes into play. One that focuses on all aspects of these conditions, which includes diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and pain management.

Fitterfly’s programs Diabefly Pro and Reset23 create personalized plans including an in-depth assessment-based exercise prescription. But even then, don’t give up on your NEAT. It never hurts to burn a few extra calories. 




This blog provides general information for educational and informational purposes only and shouldn't be seen as professional advice.

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- By Fitterfly Health-Team

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