Our bodies are continually expending energy to stay alive even WITHOUT exercising. The basic functions that expend energy include: breathing, circulation of blood, digesting or physical movement. All of which, interestingly, burns calories or kilocalories.
This energy expenditure process is called resting metabolic rate. The variables that influence your metabolic rate vary individually involve: age, sex, weight, height, body composition, genetics and activity level are variables that affect the metabolic rate.
The variables that increase the metabolic rate are:
- More muscle development
- Living in cold weather
- Eating small but regular meals
The variables that decrease the metabolic rate are:
- Older in age
“Sedentary ‘activity’ is defined as any waking behaviour characterized by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 METs while sitting or reclining”. 1
Metabolic Equivalent (MET)
The metabolic equivalent (MET) is a method that quantifies the energy expenditure of physical activity as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate.
A 70-kg individual sitting in a chair will have a low metabolic rate of 1.2 kcal/min.
The approximate MET values of a 70 kg individual performing household chores and recreational activities are shown below2:
Mowing the lawn (push mower)
“Current public health guidelines recommend engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) on most days, in order to prevent chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease”. 3
Additionally on the days that you do not exercise make sure your MET is above 1.5! That is, make sure you do not sit most of the day. This can be achieved by walking or even adding in more activity producing non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) to burn more calories on your working day.
NEAT are activities of daily living that are not of the exercise variety, such as sitting, standing, and walking.4
NEAT Break Tip:
- Have a 2L bottle and glass on your desk
- Drink at least half a glass (or more) every hour
- The urgency to go to the toilet will be your natural alarm to go for your NEAT a.k.a walk
- BENEFIT: lose more calories, less back pain, energy balance, healthy back, fewer headaches and much more!
1. Parry S, Straker L: The contribution of office work to sedentary behaviour associated risk. BMC Public Health. 2013, 13 (1): 296-10.1186/1471-2458-13-296.
2. Jetté M, Sidney K, Blümchen G (1990). Metabolic equivalents (METS) in exercise testing, exercise prescription, and evaluation of functional capacity. Clin Cardiol. 1990 Aug;13(8):555-65.
3. Department of Health and Aged Care: National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians. 1999, Canberra: ACT.
4. Levine, JA, Schleusner, SJ, Jensen, MD (2000). Energy expenditure of nonexercise activity. American Society for Clinical Nutrition;72(6),1451-1454.