Combatting the weekend effect with NEAT.

It’s the weekend, you’ve had a long and stressful week, now it’s time to relax right?  Well while you might be taking a break from structure exercise over the whole weekend or possibly one day over the weekend, that doesn’t mean that you plant your rear end firmly on the couch and accumulate a whopping 700 steps over the day basically moving within your house from the fridge to the couch and from the bathroom to the couch.  

We discussed the idea last weekend that some combination of inactivity and excess food intake creates enough of a positive energy balance to negate all of the discipline of your whole week and derail your goals towards a healthier body composition.  While you very much have earned the right to take the weekend off from structured exercise, it’s important to understand the effect of NEAT on your energy balance.

Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) includes any energy expenditure that does not come from basic ongoing body functions or planned exercise.  I pulled this diagram from Hoeger’s Principle’s of Fitness and Wellness to show how much movement during your day affects your energy balance. Sitting all day long catching up on all of the shows you missed over the weekend can have a huge impact!  

This example aside, you don’t have to hit the gym over the weekend to make an impact.  As an example, check out the list from Live Science below to see that while exercise has a big impact, just a little doing activities that can help you unwind and keep you from a huge set back towards you health/wellness goals can make a huge difference!

  • Running: 842 / 705

  • Swimming: 515 / 431

  • Cycling (stationary bike, vigorous): 491 / 411

  • Carrying boxes upstairs: 421 / 352

  • Walking (5mph / 8 kph): 374 / 315

  • Aerobics : 304 / 254

  • Mowing lawn (hand mower): 281 / 235

  • Mowing lawn (power mower): 257 / 215

  • Walking (brisk): 234 / 196

  • Dancing: 210 / 176

  • Gardening: 187 / 157

  • Trombone playing: 164 / 137

  • Vacuuming: 164 / 137

  • Light cleaning: 140 / 98

  • Cooking: 140 / 98

  • Piano playing: 140 / 98

  • Child care: 140 / 98

  • Household tasks: 140 / 98

  • Making the bed: 94 / 78

  • Driving 94 / 78

  • Standing, talking on the phone: 84 / 70

  • Sexual activity: 70 / 59

  • Lying quietly: 47 / 39

  • Sleeping: 42 / 35


Here are some suggestions! 

  • Dust off your bike and go for a ride.
  • Join a Rec league (Frisbee golf, kickball, softball, dodge ball, soccer, etc) 
  • Play (or learn how to play) a musical instrument and practice weekly.Play on a playground with your kids at least once a week.
  • Start a weekend yoga practice.
  • Clean up around the house.
  • Stop meeting for coffee – choose alternatives that are more active or grab your coffee and walk while you chat.
  • Build a standing desk for your home office.
  • Rough house / wrestle with your kids.
  • Go dancing or dance around your house while doing household activities
  • Walk the dog (the dog needs to be active too).
  • Find trails around SC and go hiking, especially with friends or family.
  • Make it a game to find the stairs in every place you go then use them as often as possible.
  • Park as far from the front door as possible while doing weekend shopping.
  • Start a garden and tend to it over the weekend.
  • Do your own yard work.
  • Disconnect your internet from 10-3 over the weekend.
  • Use active transportation and public transit at least 1x a month or more often if you can.
  • Go for a family walk after dinner.
  • Get on the floor and stretch every time you watch TV.
  • Make it a goal to squat every time you pick something off the floor instead of bending over.
  • USE your pedometer and shoot for beating your weekend step average by 500 steps
  • Start cooking your own food over the weekend instead of restaurants or take-out
  • Teach yourself how to juggle.


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