Don Graham, head of fitness coaching at Goal Master Fitness, explains how to improve your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) & burn more calories without even realising it.

Your energy balance is the balance between the energy (calories) you consume and the energy (calories) you expend. Weight gain occurs when consumption exceeds expenditure. Weight loss occurs when expenditure exceeds consumption. It’s really that simple.

Related: Weight Loss vs Fat Loss: What Is The Difference?

Some people believe that an hour a day on a treadmill is the best way to lose weight. There is no doubt that an hour on a treadmill will burn calories (on average, 500 to 750kcals depending primarily on your weight and the intensity of exercise).

But for most people, spending an hour on a treadmill is tedious, unpleasant and difficult. Equally, most people overestimate the number of calories they burn performing intentional exercise.

For most people, 70% or more of the calories burned each day are the calories burned at rest, up to 10% of the calories we burn is the thermic effect of food (or TEF), and people who exercise actively typically do not burn more than 10% of their daily calories performing intentional exercise.

So, where is the missing 10 or 20 per cent? It’s what we call NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). This is all the calories we burn from activity other than intentional exercise.

For most people, this is the largest part of their daily activity – and the easiest type of activity to increase.

So why is NEAT neat? Because for most people, if you want to increase the energy you expend (the calories you burn), it is physically and psychologically easier to increase NEAT than to jump on a treadmill. NEAT, in short, can add up quickly. Here’s how to improve your NEAT and burn more calories without realising it…

5 Ways To Improve NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) | Men's Fitness UK

1. Climb every mountain to improve your NEAT

By mountains, we mean buildings, and by climbing, we mean take the stairs. Yes, you’ve heard this one before, but have you actually committed to it? Climbing just two flights of stairs burns between five to ten calories depending on your weight, speed and the number of stairs per flight.

Make this relatively tiny effort every day and, all things being equal (being at a steady weight, no increase or decrease in calorie intake or expenditure elsewhere), it could result in a pound of fat loss in a year’s time.

2. Leave early

Getting off public transport one stop earlier to walk the remaining distance may prolong your commute, but it will improve your NEAT and expedite your fitness journey.

Yes, like taking the stairs, this is another old chestnut, but they both actually work. This is because instead of requiring you to take up a completely new activity, they combine something you already do with something you don’t, making embedding a new habit much more likely to happen.

3. Have more sex to improve your NEAT

If all is well with libido and sexual performance, making quality time for intimacy with your partner is the ultimate way to increase NEAT.

And it’s arguably even more fun than taking the stairs.

4. Start a fantasy footstep league 

Like Fantasy Football, only you’ll actually be doing the physical work, not relying on sports people to do it for you.

Fitbit and other wrist-worn activity trackers have the ability to create step challenges with colleagues, friends and family. By adding a healthy dose of competition, you can create interest where none previously existed.

The accountability of others being able to see how many steps you’re clocking up will literally keep you on your toes. There can be prizes. There can be fundraising. Whatever you can do to make it fun and meaningful, the better.

5. Follow the ‘is driving really necessary?’ rule

The temptation to ‘just take the car’ can be impossible to resist. If you’re pushed for time, doing so to complete a walking distance journey is fully justified. But if you’re not, there’s no excuse.

Those steps will do you a world of good, and anything we can do to cut down on carbon emissions does the world a load of good.

Small, consistent efforts – they all add up to improve your NEAT.