Recently I was reminded of how much additional activity is needed for those with a sedentary lifestyle to lose fat. Most of us have a sedentary job which we drive to and then get home to sit in front of another computer or TV.
Active Jobs Make a Big Difference
The average sedentary woman will burn 1,750 cals a day and average man 2,300 cals a day. Take those same people and put them on their feet with light activity for 8 hours a day and now they burn 2,250 and 3,000 cals respectively. This activity level would describe such occupations as a nurse, server, or small-medium package handler. If you take these two people and have them at a job with moderate labor, they now burn 2,900 and 3,500 calories respectively. That is a difference of 500-1200 calories burned per day!
As a trainer, it is EXTREMELY easy to make those with active jobs lose fat. Give them a few extra workouts a week, make them adhere to a healthy diet, and watch them lose fat at an incredible rate. For the sedentary individual this happens MUCH slower as one would expect by the numbers above. They need to have their nutrition near perfect in order to lose fat at a considerable rate.
I Became Sedentary
This really sunk in for me personally in the last couple years. While many would blame age, this is rarely the case within a short period. People say, “Oh, once I hit ‘input age’ my metabolism came to a halt and I gained 30lbs. You can’t just blame age for this occurrence. So about 2 years ago I sustained a chronic injury which cut my activity way down. I couldn’t workout nearly as hard, often, perform chores, and was moving less while training clients. So instead I laid in bed or did computer work. I adopted a sedentary lifestyle overnight.
Knowing this, I became even stricter on my nutrition thinking I could still lose some fat at a slower pace. Thinking my calculations were correct, I watched myself get softer even though I was eating VERY healthy and lower calories. I experienced how hard it was to lose fat with a sedentary lifestyle and only doing 3-4 light-moderate workouts a week. In fact, my bodyfat percentage went up over this time.
Once things started to heal enough to where my daily activity was restored, I resumed activities like hours of yard work and hiking. Amazingly the fat started to melt off. This experience really made me realize how important daily activity is for those at a desk 40-60 hours a week.
Make Up Those Non-active Hours
You HAVE to move more or you won’t lose fat by nutrition alone. So get out there and go for 1-2 hour hikes, bike rides, yard work sessions, and any other activities to make you move more.
Walking does help, but from a fat loss perspective you have to do something with a higher intensity in order to reap the benefits of a leaner body. Walking is a very healthy thing to do, but it only works for fat loss if your heart rate is significantly elevated, you do it for many hours a day, or if you are very deconditioned.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CSCS, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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