NEAT Hack: How “Exercise Snacks” Can Help You Burn More Calories Throughout the Day

Let’s face it, between work, family, and the daily grind, squeezing in a full gym session can sometimes feel impossible. We hear often that busy adults struggle to prioritize their health and fitness. 

But what if you could achieve amazing results and increase your daily calorie burn, all with a fraction of the time?

Enter the magic of exercise snacks! These quick, effective bursts of exercise, typically lasting 10-15 minutes, are designed to fit seamlessly into your busy schedule and deliver big results, but their benefits go beyond just a quick sweat session. Exercise Snacks are a fantastic way to boost your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). So pairing them with a gym session works as well!

What is NEAT and Why Does It Matter?

NEAT refers to the calories you burn throughout the day outside of structured exercise. This includes things like fidgeting, walking around the office/house, taking the stairs, or doing chores. 

While it might seem insignificant, NEAT can contribute significantly to your overall calorie expenditure, sometimes accounting for as much as 15% or more of your daily burn!

How Exercise Snacks Can Increase Your NEAT

Exercise snacks or micro workouts get you moving more throughout the day, which naturally increases your NEAT. Here’s how:

  • Breaks Up Sedentary Periods: Sitting for long stretches is a major enemy of NEAT. Micro workouts interrupt your sitting time and get your blood flowing, even if it’s just for a short burst.
  • Builds the Habit of Movement: Regular micro workouts can make you more mindful of movement throughout the day. You might find yourself taking the stairs more often, parking further away, or fidgeting more while on the phone. These small movements all contribute to your NEAT.
  • Increased Energy Levels: Micro workouts can leave you feeling more energized, which can translate into more movement throughout the day. So you’re more likely to take a brisk walk during your lunch break or do some active chores around the house.

Beyond Weight Loss and Increased NEAT: The Benefits of Exercise Snacks

While weight loss and boosting NEAT are great benefits, exercise snacks offer even more:

  • Improved Overall Fitness: Micro workouts can help enhance your cardiovascular health, build strength, and increase endurance.
  • Reduced Stress and Improved Mood: Exercise is a well-known stress reliever and mood booster. Even a short burst of activity can leave you feeling calmer and more positive.
  • Better Sleep: Regular physical activity can significantly improve sleep quality, leaving you feeling more rested and energized throughout the day.

Ready to Get Started with Exercise Snacks and Boost Your NEAT?

Exercise snacks are a fantastic way for busy adults like you to prioritize their health and fitness, and give their NEAT a significant boost. 

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start Small and Gradually Increase Intensity: Don’t try to be a hero on day one. Begin with shorter, less intense workouts and gradually increase the duration and difficulty as you get fitter.
  • Schedule Your Micro Workouts: Treat your micro workouts like any other important appointment. Schedule them into your calendar and stick to them!

5 Micro Workouts to Fit Your Busy Schedule (All under 15 minutes!)

Here are 5 micro workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment, each designed to target different areas and keep your workout time efficient:

1. Bodyweight Blast (12 minutes):
  • Warm-up (2 minutes): Light jumping jacks (30 seconds), arm circles (forward and backward – 30 seconds each), jumping lunges (30 seconds).
  • Circuit (Repeat 3 times):
    • Squats (30 seconds) – Focus on engaging your core and keeping your back straight.  Use a chair or stool as a target if needed.
    • Push-ups (elevated on a wall or counter if needed) (30 seconds)
    • Rest (15 seconds)
    • Plank (30 seconds) – Form a straight line from head to toe by squeezing quads, butt, and gut.
    • Rest (15 seconds)
    • Burpees (modify by stepping instead of jumping if needed) (30 seconds)
    • Rest (30 seconds)
  • Cool-down (1 minute): Gentle stretches for major muscle groups (arms, chest, legs, back).
2. Cardio HIIT (13 minutes):
  • Warm-up (2 minutes): Light jogging in place (30 seconds), high knees (30 seconds), butt kicks (30 seconds).
  • HIIT Intervals (Repeat 3 times):
    • High knees (30 seconds) – Run in place while bringing your knees high towards your chest.
    • Rest (15 seconds)
    • Jumping jacks (30 seconds)
    • Rest (15 seconds)
    • Mountain climbers (30 seconds) – Alternate bringing each knee towards your chest in a running motion.
    • Rest (30 seconds)
  • Cool-down (2 minutes): Light walking in place (30 seconds), arm swings (forward and backward – 30 seconds each).
3. Stair Workout (10 minutes):

Find a flight of stairs at home or outdoors.

  • Warm-up (2 minutes): Light jumping jacks (30 seconds), arm circles (forward and backward – 30 seconds each).
  • Stair Intervals (Repeat 6 times):
    • Run up the stairs as fast as you can (30 seconds)
    • Walk down slowly (30 seconds)
    • Repeat for 3 rounds.
  • Cool-down (2 minutes): Gentle walking in place (30 seconds), calf raises (30 seconds).

Remember, consistency is key! Even a few short micro workouts each week can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being, and give your NEAT the boost it needs to keep you burning calories all day long. So ditch the time excuses, embrace the power of micro workouts, and take control of your health today!

Exercise Snacks/ Micro Workout FAQs

  1.  Are micro workouts as effective as regular gym sessions?

    While a full gym session with weight training and cardio can offer a wider range of benefits, micro workouts can be surprisingly effective, especially for busy adults. They can help you burn calories, improve cardiovascular health, build strength, and boost your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis). Consistency is key, so if micro workouts are all you can manage to fit in, you’ll still see results!

  2. I’m not very fit. Can I still do micro workouts?

    Absolutely! Micro workouts are a great way to ease into a fitness routine.  There are many modifications you can make to exercises to suit your fitness level. Start with shorter durations and lower intensity, and gradually increase as you get stronger.

  3. What if I don’t have any equipment?

    The beauty of micro workouts is that they require minimal equipment. You can use your own bodyweight for exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups (modified on knees if needed), planks, and jumping jacks. Stairs can also be your friend for quick cardio bursts.

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