Thursday, January 23, 2014

When Counting Calories, Don’t Forget Everyday Activities

Playing with my sister's dog Stella for
half an hour could burn 126 calories.
I keep finding that life never changes the way I expect it to. For instance, when I finished college, I somehow expected working life to be less busy than school. In some ways, it is—I don’t usually have “homework” that has to be done after hours; but in other ways, it’s worse—there aren’t any summer breaks, and failing doesn’t just mean a bad grade, it means potentially losing your job.

I use the word efficient a lot. I need to be more efficient at work—so that I can get more done in less time and either go home early or prove my value as an employee. I need to be more efficient with chores and errands—so that I have more time to myself at night. I need to efficiently schedule in exercise—so that I actually exercise, instead of just planning to.

I am not always a huge fan of living this way, but as a young person trying to establish myself, it’s just the way things are right now. Maybe someday that will change, but I’m old enough now to realize that I’ll probably never get back to the leisurely pace of childhood (or the energy level of childhood).

I have a hard time not giving myself a guilt trip when I skip out on exercise because I just don’t have the energy for it—but the truth is, I shouldn’t feel quite as bad as I usually do. We burn calories simply existing. And I do a lot of activities that burn calories without even thinking about it—like walking to work on nice days and standing during meetings.

According to Babble, a 140-pound woman burns 34 calories per half hour of resting. On top of that, there are a lot of everyday activities that would help that same 140-pound woman burn even more calories and build muscle:

Washing Dishes. I do this A LOT. We don’t have a dishwasher, so dishes are a regular activity. 30 mins = 71 calories burned. Yes!

Housework. Think laundry, cleaning up after the kids (or in my case, the dog), etc. On average, 30 mins = 92 calories burned. Bam!

Showering. Remind me to take a nice long shower every time I don’t squeeze my exercise in. 30 mins = 134 calories burned. Yowza!

Playing with the kids (or, again, the dog). Of course running around the yard helps us burn up some calories—126 for every 30 minutes. Score!

Sex. It’d be silly not to mention this because, well, it’s definitely a kind of exercise. Having a good romp under the sheets (30 minutes of foreplay plus 30 minutes of sex) would burn 180 calories.

Now, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t be exercising on a regular basis—because we definitely should be. It’s just a reminder that sometimes, our bodies are actually working harder than we give them credit for.