A couple of weeks ago now, I wrote a post entitled Fitbit Stats and Analysis Part 1 which you can read here.
The aim of that post was to demonstrate that the amount of calories burned (energy used) was not always proportionate to the number of steps taken. In essence it’s possible to take a similar number of steps on two days – the example that I used in that post was around 22,000 steps – but to use different amounts of energy – 2,241calories vs 1,597 calories. And what I wondered was how could that be?
My conclusion was that what was critical in burning calories had to be the period over which the steps were taken, what activity was being engaged in whilst the steps were taken and also an individual’s heart rate during that activity.
I’ve written about Kathy previously on here. She lost a lot of weight using her Fitbit and she observed as follows:
“…I don’t think that steps, if looked at in isolation, are a good indication of fitness or activity, as it all depends on how you do them. A 10k run followed by not much else for the rest of the day, will give you the steps and a bit of calorie burn but it will soon level off. I have found it’s much better to be moderately active throughout the day ie bit of housework, bit of gardening, a dog walk etc…”
And I think that Kathy’s analysis is absolutely right. It’s the long slow burn throughout the day that uses the most energy, which, if you think about it, is probably why 1950s/60s/70s housewives were so slim. Whilst they weren’t engaged in hard core cardio activity, they didn’t sit down for the whole day and given that portion sizes were smaller then, convenience food was less readily available and that they (probably) didn’t eat out so often, they would in all likelihood have burned all of the calories that they consumed in a day.
Sunday 11th June is a good example of my step count being quite low but my energy consumption being quite high. You can see from the information below that I took 9,878 steps which is way below what I would normally do in a day.
But at a calorie burn of 2,527 the energy used that day was really quite high given the amount of steps taken.
What I’ve noticed time and time again as being relevant is my heart rate zone – and how many hours are spent burning calories in the fat burn zone (as opposed to the peak heart rate zone, or the cardio zone) Both of these involve far more effort but seemingly for little return, in that sense at least.
And this totally supports what Kathy says. It’s the dog walk, the housework, walking around tidying up, doing the supermarket shop that burns the calories. So what can we take from this?
Well on days that we’re sitting behind a desk, it is hard to get those steps in but at if an opportunity comes your way to walk up some stairs, nip out for a walk for lunch, get off a stop earlier at the tube, park further from the building – it all adds up. And whilst it sounds patronising and annoying and it’s what we’ve been told to do for years – it’s right.
And on your days off, there’s no need to go flogging yourself to death. I absolutely understand all of the health benefits of cardio exercise but I suppose it’s a case of not beating yourself up if you can’t get to the gym and get on the treadmill, or make the exercise class, or get out because it’s raining – just bake cakes, clean the house, walk around when chatting on the phone, forget what you’ve gone upstairs for so that you have to go up again and don’t sit down until the evening!
I hope that this helps. I would love to hear your views on it!