There is a fierce competition in my home. My husband surprised all of us with Nike+ FuelBands – devices worn on the wrist to measure the energy you expend daily. His goal was to encourage us all to stay active. I don’t think he could have fully anticipated the bloodthirsty contest that has ensued over who scores the most fuel points or has the highest number of daily steps. But it has been fun!
The kids are a bit bewildered as to why I generally run the highest numbers by midday. I explain that my day is go-go-go. Up from my desk, to the patient room, to the lab, back to rooms, back to desk, meetings and so forth. This is my NEAT, an acronym for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
The term refers to energy consumed other than through purposeful physical activity. NEAT includes energy expended cleaning house, working in the yard, cooking in the kitchen or walking from the parking lot to the store or work. NEAT is anything outside of dedicated exercise.
There are three components of our daily energy expenditure. Our baseline energy expenditure (basal metabolic rate) accounts for approximately 60 percent of daily energy used. Burning our food fuel accounts for another 10 percent of daily energy needs. The remaining 30 percent of energy is from both NEAT and dedicated exercise.
Most of my work involves walking and standing, so by the end of the day, my fuel points are high. By the time my husband and I finish cooking, cleaning and getting the kids ready for bed, I am past my Nike+ fuel goal points on NEAT-effort alone, and that is really neat.
Dr. Jane Sadler is on staff at Baylor Medical Center.