The most ideal way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. This, of course, is easier said than done. Women with a busy work and home schedule often have difficulty finding time to fit in a workout. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, might be part of the solution. This type of activity refers to daily tasks that burn calories and help you slim down and tone up. You can't rely on NEAT alone to work your stomach, but it can give you a boost when time is tight.
At the Office
You might feel trapped in your office with few opportunities to get up and move around. While it's true that you probably can't stray too far from your desk, you can boost your calorie burn and activate your stomach muscles while you work. Instead of sitting in your chair during a conference call or business phone call, stand up and pace the perimeter of your office on your toes. The extra balance this requires activates your core muscles. When you arrive at work, head to and from lunch and leave for the day, use the stairs instead of the elevator, which makes your core work to balance your body. Engage your ab muscles as you do these activities to enhance the benefits.
Yes, chores burn calories. You can't count them as your only form of exercise, but they certainly contribute to your daily calorie burn and can help work the muscles in your midsection, too. Anything that involves balance, reaching and twisting works, for example, painting walls, washing windows, raking leaves, trimming trees and bushes, moving furniture and scrubbing floors. The more vigorously you work, the more calories you burn. Engage your stomach muscles as you twist, reach and push to make them work harder, which enhances your progress and the benefits of NEAT.
Wandering the mall might seem like a dream workout. While it doesn't count as formal exercise, it fits into the NEAT category. Strolling in and out of shops, picking up and looking at merchandise and carrying shopping bags all contribute a little something toward calorie burn. Walking with bags full of your purchases requires balance, which helps activate your core. Climbing the stairs instead of taking the escalator also works your abs. Try a quick test drive of the abdominal workout gear at the mall's sporting goods store for some additional stomach moves, too. At the grocery store, reaching up high for cans and boxes works your core as does twisting back and forth while you load your food from the cart to the conveyor belt. As you stand in line, contract and relax your ab muscles to give them an extra workout.
Leisure time doesn't have to mean lounging around a swimming pool while gorging on unhealthy snacks and calorie-laden drinks, although it won't hurt your physical fitness to indulge once in a while. Take your kids to the zoo. Take a hike or a bike ride at a local park or nature preserve. Walking and cycling activate your stomach muscles and burn calories. Go out on the town with friends and dance the night away. Any moves that require twisting or balancing are ideal for working your abs. Playing Frisbee at the park, diving into your rec center pool and walking the dog also count. Stay mindful of engaging your stomach muscles while you do any of these activities.
- American Heart Association: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
- MayoClinic.com: Core Exercises: Why You Should Strengthen Your Core Muscles
- USA Today: Q&A: How to Drop Pounds With All-Day Activities, Not Exercise
- Best Practice and Research, Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.