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Ten things about weight loss: Part 9

Posted Jun 19 2009 5:41pm
This is the final part of my report on the TV programme Ten Things You Never Knew About Weight Loss. The final lesson is about exercise - for those who don't much like it!

10. Keep moving and lose weight

We all know that exercise is a critical part of the weight loss equation. Weight loss is essentially a function of calories in minus calories out - the more exercise we do, the more calories we burn, the more weight we lose. However, regular exercise is often a very difficult habit to get into. For a start, any form of vigorous exercise can be almost impossible for a person with a very high BMI - I know. At 20 stone I was never able to climb the stairs to my office at work - taking the lift was the only realistic option. I would never have dreamt of signing up at the locaal gym - imagine the embarrassment of attempting to exercise amongst all the fit, young bodies that I would have doubtless have encountered?! Going to the gym also takes a great slice of time out of the day and iis often simply unrealistic for obese people with young children, hectic lifestyles or demanding jobs.

So, this episode of the programme looked at whether it really is possible to achieve calorie burning by making small changes to our daily routine. The programme focussed on a lady called Amy. Amy's lifestyle is mainly sedentary. A typical day for her consists of sitting down at a desk and engaging in very little activity at home or work. On day one, her heart rate is recorded through the day and it simply confirms that she gets very little exercise. On day two, Amy is told to vary her routine a little. She has to be a little more active. For example, she has to use the stairs more at home and while she is sitting down (at home), she has to 'move around'. When she goes to work she has to get off the train at an earlier stop, walk up the escalator, and generally spend more time walking and talking. Even when she is at work standing in one place she is encouraged to move around as much as she can.

Her higher average heart rate on day two demonstrates that she has got much more activity - and more often. The result is, that on day two she burns an additional 240 calories! Now, this does not sound like much, but if repeated on a daily basis - that's half a pound a week or nearly two stones in a year!

The conclusion of the programme is that small changes in our daily routine are often enough to get us back into some physical activity without having to join a gym or take part in formalised activites that often cost quite a lot and take up a great deal of time. There was a reminder at the end of the programme that the benefits of burning calories would clearly be lost if we eat more than we otherwise would - so it's important to maintain the same calorie intake (or reduce it further).

I am keeping up with my attempt to walk an average of 10,000 steps per day and wear my pedometer everywhere I go. I don't always manage 10,000 on average but at least I have a target to aim for. I rarely manage 10,000 during the week - more like 5-7,000, but I generally do more than 10,000 on Saturdays and Sundays. I've been increasing my mid-week steps by parking further from the building in the car park at work. I also park further away from the shops if shopping at the weekend. I tend to 'pop out' of the office during the day and walk to the shop to either buy lunch or buy a bottle of drink. I also walk to the toilets furthest from my office rather than going to those closer - though I have to be careful that I don't waste too much work time (I do have things to do y'know!!!). I go for a half hour walk quite often when I get home from work - and it all adds up. I've also been swimming once a week and doing a once-a-week pilates class. I calculate the 'steps equivalent' of these activities and add it to my daily total. I must confess that I'm not very good at 'moving about' when I'm sitting or standing. I tend to walk when I'm walking, sit when I'm sitting and stand when I'm standing! In a typical week I probably walk at least 50,000 steps which is equivalent to 3000 calories - or nearly one pound. So it really is worth the effort, and I'm feeling much fitter and livelier than I used to.

Good luck out there!
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