NEAT - Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

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Definition: NEAT is an acronym for "non-exercise activity thermogenesis". It's basically all the physical movement of our lives that isn't planned exercise or sports. (Technically, it also isn't sleeping or eating.) It includes activities such as cooking, shopping, and even small movements such as fidgeting. It turns out that NEAT can have quite a substantial impact on our metabolic rates and calorie expenditures.

NEAT is thought to be one of the ways our bodies use to manage our weight. If we gain weight, NEAT tends to rise, whereas when we lose weight, NEAT often plummets, and people end up sitting more without moving as much. As NEAT researcher James Levine puts it, "we may come to appreciate that spontaneous physical activity is not spontaneous at all but carefully programmed".

Even standing as opposed to sitting can be beneficial, which has fueled the popularity of "standing desks".


Levine JA. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Best Practice Res in Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 16: 679–702, 2002.

Levine JA. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): environment and biology. American Journal of Physiology Endocrinology and Metabolism 286(5):E675-E685. May 1, 2004.

Also Known As: daily activity, casual activity

Examples: Activities we engage in while going about our daily business, not including purposeful exercise.

 Fidgeting, moving our legs instead of standing still, and basically any body movements are examples of NEAT. 

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