All About NEAT: Your Hidden Daily Calorie Burn

What is NEAT?

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the energy expended for everything we do that does not include sleeping, eating, or exercise; and ranges from simple things like standing and fidgeting to moving about.

Why is NEAT important to weight loss?

When we think about weight loss and our daily calories burned, we often think of only the amount of time that we spend “formally” exercising each day, like that 30 minutes on the exercise bike or the 20 minute workout video you completed.

But what about the other 110+ hours per week you are awake?

These hours represent a HUGE chunk of our lives and potentially a huge opportunity to create a bigger caloric deficit to aid our weight loss goals.

Let’s Break Down the Math…

Research done by Dr. James Levine shows that NEAT levels can vary up to 2,000 calories per day among adults of similar size, meaning that one person can burn approximately 2,000 more calories than another person simply because of their daily routine, usually dictated by the type of work one does. What you do during the ENTIRETY of your day matters!

According to the NIH, the average calorie burn of a 170 lb person* in an hour is the following…

  • 134 calories sitting
  • 206 calories standing
  • 296 calories walking at a moderate pace
  • 341 calories walking briskly

Even if you shift one hour of your day from sitting to standing, you might possibly burn up to another 72 calories per hour (do that 7x a week and you’re talking about another 504 calories)!

*Please note: variation widely exists when it comes to NEAT based on gender, weight, and even genetics.

Make NEAT Conscious to Aid Your Goals

Now that we see how profoundly extra movement can impact our daily calorie burn, it can be an empowering way to help you aid your weight loss efforts even when you’re short on time and can’t fit a more formal workout. 

All you need to do is MOVE!

A great place to start when it comes to upping your NEAT is to getreal about how many hours a day you are sitting. Remember this isn’t only during time you might be sitting at your desk working, it also might be when you are driving or watching television at night. It adds up!

Get creative with how you might be able to sneak more movement into your day. Can you stand or walk while you take a phone call? Can you pace around while you cook a meal? Can you go to a further restroom when you need a bathroom break? Can you take the stairs instead of an elevator? 

Becoming an “active” person requires a lifestyle shift but the benefits can add up! As little as 100 calories each day translates to approximately an extra 10½ lbs. lost in a year.

Long Live the Step Goal

The most effective accountability tool around to help you make NEAT conscious is a pedometer or smart watch.

While it can’t measure EVERYTHING you do, it does monitor the most basic movement of all throughout the day: your steps.  Setting a daily step goal will help you see patterns in your daily activity and help you stay accountable to increasing your movement throughout the day.  

Picking a Step Goal

Picking a step goal should be personal and based on your goals. A great place to start is to wear a pedometer for a few days to find out your baseline and then slowly increase by 1,000-2,000 steps a day, with the ultimate goal to reach a minimum of 7,500 steps a day to reduce negative health outcomes. 


Inactive: Less than 5,000 steps/day

Average (Somewhat Active): Ranges from 7,500-9,999 steps/day

Very Active: More than 12,000 steps/day

Do I really need to monitor my NEAT if I workout daily?

It’s probably a good idea. And here’s why. Our bodies are smart. When we are working on a weight loss goal, we put our bodies into a calorie deficit. Since our bodies LOVE to preserve our current weight, dieters will often start moving around less to preserve the energy lost.  By keeping our daily activity conscious by tracking steps, we can help to avoid this “energy preservation” mechanism.

Looking for some ways to sneak more activity into your daily routine? Read on for my top CBJ tips to upping your NEAT…

CBJ Tips for Increasing Your Daily NEAT Calorie Burn


  • Drink more water = More bathroom breaks
  • Pace while talking on the phone, texting/emailing
  • Schedule a walk break into your calendar
  • Set a timer to get up regularly throughout the day
  • Add “exercise snacks” – super short workouts – to your day
  • Park far away/take the stairs
  • Tap your toes, even fidgeting adds up!


  • Have a dance party!
  • Take an after-dinner family walk
  • Schedule family hikes in new locations
  • If you’re waiting to be seated at a restaurant take a walk around the block
  • Move around or walk during kids sporting events or activities
  • Walk or ride a bike to events or to run errands as a family
  • Go to the park and opt into playing games such as throwing a ball or a frisbee


  • Stand up while folding laundry
  • Sweep/vacuum daily
  • Dry dishes by hand
  • Get in the garden/do yard work
  • Wash your car or clean your house yourself
  • Make chores inefficient, take smaller loads of groceries or laundry at a time, unload one dish at a time from the dishwasher
  • Listen to podcasts, books, or music while doing chores so that they become enjoyable
  • Add meal prep to a sedentary time of your day.


  • Put on an audiobook or podcast and go for a walk or pace around the house
  • Pace around while making a pot of tea or waiting for the microwave
  • Meet up with a friend for a walk instead of a meal
  • Walk slowly on a treadmill while watching tv or browsing the internet
  • March in place while brushing and flossing
  • Plug your cell phone in another room. Will give you a break from your phone and get you moving to check it.
  • Light a candle and stretch or do some yoga.

Share with us! What are your favorite ways to sneak in more movement throughout the day?

xx jen

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