Daily Physical Activities & Calories Burned

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

Sedentary Society

Human beings are supposed to be active.

Resting and sleep were 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 or more hours a day.

Until recently, 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, sedentary 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, supermarkets, or supercenters open 24 hours a day to shop for groceries.

Processed foods, another recent invention, replaced foods made at home and refrigerated or frozen. No preservatives, no artificial flavors, and no artificial colors.

Today, most people in industrialized countries live in cities and 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 a day (lumberjack, construction, farming) have become 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 to entertain them.  Now mom can drop off an infant or child at daycare and go to work at her desk job.

Many Americans have become sedentary. 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, tablet, or on the computer surfing the Internet or checking what is happening on social media. 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 and maintaining  your weight 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 the only equipment you need is a good pair of shoes.  Whether it is a leisurely stroll (less than 3 miles an hour) or a fast paced walk (5 or more miles an 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 your endurance increases. This is especially important if you have not exercised in years.

For example, you walk 30 minutes a 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 you can lose up to 16 pounds of body fat in one year.

Losing up to 16 pounds in a year is not 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 unless you are doing intense strength training adding substantial muscle mass. Muscle is denser than fat.

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 sugar sweetened soft drink, you can start by cutting back to one every other day or once or twice a week. If you drink more than one 12 ounce can a day, reduce your consumption to one can a 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.

Physical Activities And Calories

The following table lists 18 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 doing a monotonous, repetitive routine.  Some people believe doing one highly advertised activity is going to transform them from overweight to Mr. or Ms. Universe using stair steppers, light weights, or dozens of other devices. Keep in mind, the people endorsing these activities are paid and not endorsing them out of the goodness of their hearts. Usually, every ad has in very fine print disclaimers like “Results Not Typical” or “When Combined With A Diet Plan.”

Variety is the spice of life.  Becoming more active by doing a variety of  activities increases the likelihood you will remain active which is one of the major benefits of a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.   Also, outdoor activities can be more fun.  Riding a bicycle requires balance, coordination, and attentiveness not required when you ride a stationary bicycle.

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

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

Calories Burned
Activity Approximate Calorie Factor
Backpacking 3mph level grade 0.032
Backpacking 3.5 mph 5° grade 0.052
Backpacking 1.5 mph 36° grade 0.103
Ballroom dancing- moderate 0.034
Ballroom dancing- vigorous 0.049
Bicycling 10 mph 0.049
Bicycling 13 mph 0.071
Chopping wood 0.045
Cooking 0.020
Folk or square dancing moderate 0.039
Folk or square dancing vigorous 0.049
Gardening 0.040
Golf carrying clubs 0.045
Hiking 2 mph 10° grade 0.051
Hiking 2 mph 20° grade 0.073
Housework 0.022
Ironing 0.017
Jogging 5 mph 0.060
Jogging 7 mph 0.092
Painting the house 0.038
Running 8 mph 0.104
Running 10 mph 0.129
Jumping Rope 70 turns per minute 0.071
Rollerblading- low 0.032
Rollerblading- moderate 0.049
Rollerblading- vigorous 0.065
Soccer moderate 0.052
Soccer vigorous 0.097
Walking 3 mph 0.033
Walking 3.5 mph 0.035
Walking 4.5 mph 0.048
Writing .024