Daily Physical Activities & Calories Burned

Comments Off on Daily Physical Activities & Calories Burned | Last Update: April 18, 2012

Excerpt From

Live Longer & Healthier Eating Foods You Love

 Live Longer and Healthier Book Cover Art

Sedentary Society

Human beings were created to be active.

Rest and sleep was something done after the sun set. Fire, candles, oil and gas lamps, and electric lights are recent inventions.

Humans were hunter gathers not tied to a desk job eight to more hours per day.

There was no need for fitness centers, home gyms and a myriad of machines, weights, straps, bands, and balls designed to separate tormented, overweight, desk bound, individuals from their hard earned money and possibly replace body fat with lean muscle tissue.  There is one major difference, our primitive ancestors had no choice in order to survive.  If you did not hunt or gather food you died.  There were no convenience stores open 24 hours per day, supermarkets, or supercenters to  shop for groceries. Processed foods, another recent invention,  were foods made at home and refrigerated or frozen. No preservatives, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors.

Today, most people in industrialized countries work in offices and factories to make money to put food on the table and a roof over their head.  In just the last hundred years, many jobs which burned 1000’s of calories per day (lumberjack, construction, farming) have become menial tasks done by machines requiring no more effort than pushing a button, pulling a lever, or turning a knob.

Even the American household has been transformed in just the last few decades.   Clothes are no longer washed by hand. Electric can openers, mixers, food processors, toasters, ovens, dishwashers, and garbage  disposals have reduced the amount of energy needed for daily physical activities.  Many mothers no longer stay home to care for their young children.  Children have television, video games, dozens of toys, and daycare.  Now mom can drop off an infant or child at daycare and go to work at her desk job.

Most Americans have become a sedentary people.  Some have earned the dubious distinction of couch potato.  Americans eat more and exercise less.  People come home from work or school, grab something convenient to eat, and retire to watch TV, play video games, spend hours on the phone or on the computer surfing the net.  They would be in much better shape going for a walk or surfing (in the ocean).

You Don’t Need a Gym Membership To Stay In Shape

Staying in good physical condition does not require a large investment in bulky machines that take up a corner of a room and sometimes an entire room.  One of the best forms of exercise is walking and all you need is a good pair of shoes.  Whether it is a leisurely stroll (less than 3 miles per hour) or a fast paced walk (5 or more miles per hour) you are working the largest muscles in your body.  It can begin as a short walk (¼ to ½ mile) and progress to longer distances as you build endurance.  This is especially important if you have not exercised in years.  Let’s say you walk 30 minutes per day at 3 miles per hour and weight 150 pounds.  You would burn about 150 calories.  That is about the equivalent number of calories in a 12 ounce soft drink with sugar (actually high fructose corn syrup).

If you drink one 12 ounce can of regular cola a day, by substituting water for the cola and walking 30 minutes per day you can loose about a pound of body fat in 23 days (a pound of fat has about 3,500 calories).  Continue the routine, without increasing the number of calories you eat and it is possible to lose up to 16 pounds of fat in one year.

Losing up to 16 pounds in a year does not sound as impressive as the claims to lose 16 pounds in one month.  But we are taking about losing body fat and adding lean muscle versus losing mostly water.  Also keep in mind that the number of calories you burn is based on your weight.  So the actual number of calories you burn decreases as your weight decreases assuming you are doing intense strength training that adds a substantial amount of muscle.

Small Changes Can Produce Big Results

The important point to keep in mind from the above example is the minimal effort needed to permanently lose weight (body fat).  You do not have to give up soft drinks completely.  If you drink one 12 ounce can per day of a regular soft drink, you can cut back to every other day or once or twice a week.  If you drink more than one can a day reduce your consumption to one can per day and than every other day or less.  Making small changes to your diet and increasing physical activity have significant long-term mental and physical health benefits.

The following table lists 20 activities that require no videos, little or no equipment and provide huge health benefits.  One of the reasons home gyms and exercise videos gather dust after a few weeks or months is the monotonous routine.  People select one activity believing they are going to go from overweight to Mr. or Ms. Universe using stair steppers, light weights, or dozens of other devices.  Even a cross-country skiing machine popular during the 1980s has faded from memory.

Variety is the spice of life.  By varying your activity you increase the likelihood you will stick with the plan which is one of the major benefits of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.   Also, exercising outdoors is more fun.  Riding a bicycle requires balance, coordination and attentiveness which is not required when you exercise using a stationary bicycle.

You can use the following table to estimate the number of calories you will burn for the given activity.

Calories burned = Calorie Factor x Your Weight x No. of minutes per activity
For example, walking at 3 mph:  .033  x 150 lbs x 30 minutes = 148 calories


Estimated calorie factor

Backpacking, 3mph, level grade


Backpacking, 3.5 mph, 5° grade


Backpacking, 1.5 mph, 36° grade


Ballroom dancing, moderate


Ballroom dancing, vigorous


Bicycling, 10 mph


Bicycling, 13 mph


Chopping wood




Folk & square dancing, moderate


Folk & square dancing, vigorous




Golf, carrying clubs


Hiking, 2 mph, 10° grade


Hiking, 2 mph, 20° grade






Jogging, 5 mph


Jogging, 7 mph


Painting the house


Running, 8 mph


Running, 10 mph


Jumping Rope, 70 turns per minute


Rollerblading, low


Rollerblading, moderate


Rollerblading, vigorous


Soccer, moderate


Soccer, vigorous


Walking, 3 mph


Walking, 3.5 mph


Walking, 4.5 mph