Obesity is linked to cardiovascular disease. The global increase in sedentary lifestyle is an important factor contributing to the rising prevalence of the obesity epidemic. Traditionally, counseling has focused on moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise, with disappointing results. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is an important component of daily energy expenditure. It represents the common daily activities, such as fidgeting, walking, and standing. These high-effect NEAT movements could result in up to an extra 2000 kcal of expenditure per day beyond the basal metabolic rate, depending on body weight and level of activity. Implementing NEAT during leisure-time and occupational activities could be essential to maintaining a negative energy balance. NEAT can be applied by being upright, ambulating, and redesigning workplace and leisure-time environments to promote NEAT. The benefits of NEAT include not only the extra calories expended but also the reduced occurrence of the metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular events, and all-cause mortality. We believe that to overcome the obesity epidemic and its adverse cardiovascular consequences, NEAT should be part of the current medical recommendations. The content of this review is based on a literature search of PubMed and the Google search engine between January 1, 1960, and October 1, 2014, using the search terms physical activity, obesity, energy expenditure, nonexercise activity thermogenesis, and NEAT.
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