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The Balance Between Exercise and Calories

By Debra Rodzinak

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, more than one in three adults are considered obese and more than one in 20 are extremely obese.  Almost 75 percent of men are considered overweight or obese.  These numbers are not only astonishing, but disturbing.  It is obvious that the average American needs to increase their amount of daily physical activity.

Active Movements

With busy schedules, sedentary lifestyles, and modern conveniences, putting active movements into daily activities can help burn calories without even trying.  Some examples of common household tasks and their calories burned include:

  • Fence building – 340 calories
  • Hanging storm windows – 272 calories
  • Laying tile – 238 calories
  • Sanding floors – 238 calories
  • Sweeping – 156 calories
  • Mopping – 136 calories
  • General cleaning – 136 calories
  • Vacuuming – 170 calories
  • Cooking – 102 calories
  • Shopping – 88 calories
  • Making the bed – 68 calories
  • Playing with children – 204 calories
  • Bathing the dog – 170 calories
  • Raking leaves – 384 calories
  • Mowing the lawn – 400 calories

The calories listed are for one hour of work. 

Causes of Overweight and Obesity

When people move, breathe, exercise, or even sleep, energy is used.  Depending on the level of activity, the number of calories burned or used by the body varies.  When people take in more calories than they burn, over time, weight is gained. 

This intake and output can be thought of as a mathematical equation with one side representing the caloric input and the other side the energy output.  When the caloric input side is greater than the energy output side, weight is gained.  When the energy output side is greater than the caloric intake side, weight is lost.  Pretty simple, right? 

Unfortunately, many people struggle with this delicate balance and routinely take in more calories than they burn, including children.  Obesity in the United States is at all-time record levels.   

Health Risks of Excess Weight and Obesity

Many obvious and some not-so-obvious health risks are the result of being overweight or obese. These include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Breast, colon, endometrial, and kidney cancer
  • Stroke

Treatment Options

Since there is no one cause of obesity, there is no “magic pill” than can prevent or treat obesity.  Many factors such as diet, exercise, and behavioral treatments can help those who are obese overcome the health risks associated with excess weight.  In extreme cases, weight-loss surgery is an option, but should only be sought after all other routes have been exhausted.

Exercise, eating healthy foods, not smoking or drinking, and limiting the amount of calories eaten are the best steps to take to achieve an overall healthy lifestyle while maintaining a healthy weight.  Find what works for you and stick to it.  Losing weight and keeping it off is not easy, but it is obtainable.


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