Whether we’re moving or asleep our body uses energy.
According to Healthinfo.com.au, the human body converts the food we consume into energy. The amount of energy provided by food is typically measured either in calories or kilojoules.
We use this energy to sustain our body‘s essential functions and to fuel all the physical tasks we undertake each day.
Even if we rest in bed and don’t do any form of physical activity whatsoever, we still require around 1200 calories a day just to maintain our essential bodily functions.
Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is all about balancing the energy we take in and the energy we let out.
The exact number of calories we burn will depend on our basal metabolic rate BMR, which is the amount of energy our body uses while we are resting.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those lucky people with a fast metabolism, who burns more calories than others. In addition to watching my energy intake, I need to regularly exercise to spend my energy. Sadly, as we age, we typically experience reduced energy output especially following menopause.
I know when I regularly eat more calories than what is recommended daily, it doesn’t take long for me to stack on the kilos.
Put simply when there is more energy coming into our body than going out then that excess energy gets stored as body fat.
My favourite way to burn that energy is still power walking and I’ve already written a couple of articles in more detail about that in previous AMC Newsletters.
On average you can burn around 70 calories for every kilometre you walk and that increases if you pick up the pace and even more if you add some hills and stairs. I only managed a shorter walk than usual today (I aim to walk a minimum of 5kms each time) with my Map My Walk app. recording me walking for 3.87kms. I was delighted to see that I had burnt 256 calories as a result.
With all the recent months of seemingly endless rain that a great many of us have had to endure, I haven’t been able to pound the pavement as much as I would like, so I’ve been trying to implement other ways to use up my energy instead.
Some years ago I was lucky enough to train with Jeff Fenech, three-time world boxing champion and in those five years I was fitter and trimmer than I’ve ever been.
Not only is boxing a great stress reliever and a wonderful way to tone the arms and body, it is also a terrific energy burner.
Research has shown that boxing burns more calories than any other sport where you can burn up around 800 calories an hour.
I have a freestanding boxing bag in my apartment and I still implement the invaluable boxing tips Jeff taught me, including engaging my core when I box and to put the whole force of my body and shoulder into each punch rather than just throwing punches from my hand, wrist or arm.
Incidental Ways to Burn Energy
Being active in as many ways as you can throughout the day will help burn more energy.
If you don’t enjoy exercising or you don’t have the time to do it regularly or you’re like me and want to add more ways to boost your metabolic rate and burn more energy, then here are some ways to work out while doing other chores or when you’re at your desk or on the couch.
Try regularly breaking up your sitting time at work and home. Get off the bus a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way. Park your car a few blocks away from your children’s school and walk them the rest of the way or park at one end of your shopping strip and walk the full length up and back. Even standing instead of sitting while on your mobile will use more energy.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
Do you always take the lift when you could easily use the stairs instead?
Would that habit change if I told you that you’ll burn twice as many calories using the stairs as you do while walking?
According to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences’ Centre, by climbing just two flights of stairs every day, you could lose around 2 to 3 kilos throughout the year and you could drop as much as 8 kilos a year if you increase that to six flights of stairs every day, which equates to losing over half-a-kilo a month.
- Doing Housework
Those never ending housework chores we undertake can be turned into workouts by holding in our stomach muscles, engaging our core while bending and moving and being mindful of your movements and keeping your back straight.
You can turn vacuuming into walking lunges to help work your abs, hips, and thighs. As you vacuum forward take a big step while lifting the heel of your back leg, then bend your knees and drop your hips down as far as you can go. Before your knee touches the ground, come back upright as you vacuum back. Put your opposite foot forward next time and alternate your feet for each lunge until you’ve finished cleaning the floor. I hate doing lunges but I find holding onto the handle of the vacuum cleaner helps me hold my balance and I’m able to do them correctly.
You can burn 100 calories in just 25 minutes of cleaning, according to David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding’s book Eat This, Not That!
- Two-minute walk every hour
If you find you’re spending extended periods of your day sitting, whether it be at your desk or on the couch, there is now new research suggesting that getting up and taking a two minute walk every hour could help reverse the negative health effects of sitting too long, such as heart disease, diabetes and premature death and you will burn much more energy.
WedMD Health Day Reporter Mary Elizabeth Dallas reported on the study’s findings, published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The study used data from more than 3,200 people, who volunteered to wear devices that measured the intensity of their activities and they were monitored for three years.
According to this study, simply standing more may not be enough to offset the dangers of sitting for too long. However, short bursts of low-intensity activities, like walking, cleaning and gardening, can boost the longevity of those who are sedentary for more than half of their day.
The study revealed that trading two minutes of sitting for two minutes of light-intensity activity each hour lowered the risk of premature death by 33%.
I did a little experiment last night and rather than just remain snuggled up on my lounge during the commercial breaks, I made sure I got up during at least one ad break in the hour and did some chores. I emptied the dishwasher during one break and folded up some washing and tidied up a bit in others. I definitely felt better as a result and certainly burned more energy than I would have by remaining horizontal on the couch and I am amazed at how many tasks I managed to complete.
- Drink Lots of Water
We all know the multiple health benefits of drinking water and now over ten studies have shown that increasing our water intake makes our body burn extra calories.
One study in particular, on water-induced thermogenesis (which is the process of heat production in the body), published in The National Library of Medicine, National Centre of Biotechnology Information, has found that drinking 500ml of water increased the metabolic rate by 30% in 14 healthy participants (seven men and seven women of normal weight).
In addition to the calorie-burning benefits, drinking more water keeps us hydrated and inhibits us from confusing thirst for hunger, which means we’ll tend to eat and snack less, reducing the amount of energy we consume.
Drinking all that extra water also means we’ll need to go to the toilet more often so we’ll move more with those extra trips to the bathroom.
There is a great Energy Burned Calculator at https://www.bupa.com.au/healthlink/health-tools/energy-burned-calculator if you’re keen to see how your workout stacks up.
Author, TV & Radio Broadcaster