Whether fast or slow, your metabolism is something you were born with. How it controls your size or ability to lose weight isn’t always straightforward (not all skinny people have fast metabolisms), but that doesn’t mean it can’t change for the better.
When it comes to boosting your metabolic rate, here’s a term to know: NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. A phrase developed and trademarked by the Mayo Clinic, NEAT accounts for all the energy you spend while not sleeping, eating, or intentionally exercising — think walking around the grocery store, gardening, or typing at your computer.
NEAT works to burn calories by increasing your metabolic rate — the more you perform casual movement throughout the day, the higher your potential to burn calories. That’s why, according to the Mayo Clinic, daily expenditure can range as much as 2,000 calories per day between two similarly-sized adults. “Research shows that people who are physically active during the day can burn an extra 300 calories per day,” says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise in an article from Everyday Health. “Over 12 days, that can add up to an extra pound of weight loss,” he says.
But let’s be clear: NEAT isn’t only helpful for weight loss — regular low-intensity movement is pivotal for healthy circulation and heart health, among other benefits. This means that even people who work out regularly but sit for eight+ hours at work typically don’t get enough movement into their day (is this you? you might be an active couch potato).
Make Your Day NEAT
If you sit all day at work, there’s a lot you can do to help yourself out.
1. Walk and talk
Do you pace around while talking on the phone? Good! Keep it up. Try standing and walking meetings, too.
2. Get a standing desk
This one’s a given–standing desk users naturally move more because they’re already upright.
3. Take the stairs
Make a habit of ditching the elevator.
4. Walk for 5-10 minutes every hour
Walk into the coffee shop instead of opting for the drive-through, park farther away, use the faraway printer, and refill your water bottle regularly.
5. Make commercial breaks active
Stretch, do a couple push-ups, or get a glass of water when you’re watching tv. Fidgeting–everything from heel bouncing to switching your posture regularly–is way better than sitting still because it increases circulation and engages your muscles.