Are you Active or Sedentary…are you sure…???

Finally a new post so you don’t have to look at that horrible picture of my Popeye arm anymore.

Happy Wednesday, I’ve been a busy girl. I took the day off from running on Saturday due the size of my arm but I got a 10 mile run in on Sunday. 3.21 miles on Monday, 5 miles on Tuesday, and 4 miles this morning. I’ve been doing a lot of yard work and stuff around the house because I have family coming to town at the first of August and my Mom is in town for the month. Life is a whirlwind right now and I’m sorta lovin it.

busy busy

If you read my blog or you know me then you know that I exercise pretty regularly. Like every day, regularly. I either run, or paddleboard, or kayak, or bike ride, but you get the point. So, because I exercise regularly, I assumed that I was in pretty good shape. And you can imagine how surprised I was when I realized earlier in the summer that I’ve gained about 10 pounds. Yep, even while training for and running half marathons and hitting the weights, paddleboarding, kayaking, walking and other assorted work outs, and trying to eat a healthy diet, I did indeed gain 10 pounds.

So where did I go wrong?

I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened but when I mentioned it to a friend and she quickly figured it out. We went over my diet and what I eat in a typical day and then we discussed my workouts and how much I run and exercise on a weekly basis and here is where it got interesting and perhaps a bit scary.

Because I’m exercising every day and eating healthy, I assumed I was rather fit and not in danger of gaining weight. I considered myself active. She informed that I was really closer to sedentary…what?

Researchers in the department of exercise science at the University of South Carolina compared the exercise and activity levels of two hypothetical women. The first, a housewife, considered sedentary because she doesn’t exercise vigorously at 30 minutes or more a day. The second, considered active because she performs one hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day.

The housewife performs light activity daily. She walks a little, she cooks, she cleans and she is doing some type of light activity for 75% of the day. The active subject works out vigorously in the gym for one hour and then she works at her desk for eight or more hours and then comes home and relaxes either in front of the T.V. or back at the computer.

Based on the amount of energy used, the housewife actually expends about 10 percent more on a daily basis than the active subject. If you equate energy expenditure with staying fit and lean, then the housewife is in better shape.

The bottom line, my friend said, is that you are not as active as you need to be.

I was kind of surprised to hear that but I realized she was right. I work at the computer at least 7-8 hours a day, (i.e. I sit on my butt), and I spend a few hours on the sofa with the family at night as well. So, even though I work out for an hour or so a day, I’m not expending enough energy to be as fit and as lean as I’d like.

So how do you find out if you’re active or sedentary and how do you find out if you’re expending enough energy? The simple solution is to use a pedometer. Clip it on first thing in the morning and check it at night to see your total for the day. There’s a bit of disagreement between the experts, but many suggest shooting for 10,000 steps per day. (That includes your running and any activity throughout the day). If you’re still gaining weight or you would like to lose weight, take a look at your diet and see if you can trim a few calories or clean it up a bit. Maybe you need to give up soda or cut back on the sugar. If tweaking your diet and 10,000 steps a day doesn’t work, try adding 2,000 additional steps a day.

And here’s an interesting fact, one study found that people who use a pedometer take on average 2,000 more steps per day than those who don’t use one.

You can read more about the study done by the department of exercise science at the University of South Carolina here. In the meantime I want to hear how you feel about this.

Do you consider yourself sedentary or active? Do you use a pedometer? How active are you during the day?

4 thoughts on “Are you Active or Sedentary…are you sure…???

  1. Maybe you gained weight because muscle weighs more than fat. That sounds like a more reasonable explanation. One of my fitness class instructors, who is a bodybuilder, talked about how she gained weight (she is petite and muscular), but it was due to the muscle! Sure, sitting and sitting everyday can lead to blood clots and other health issues, but exercise definitely counteracts that. It seems like you are perfectly active.
    Other than acting classes, I try to do things around the house and at work to burn energy. However, active people do need more sleep and calories to support the activity. I think your friend is incorrect.

    • Thanks for your comment, I actually did gain a little weight due to muscle but once I cut my computer time from 8 hours to 6 hours a day, thus decreasing the amount of time I sit, I did lose a bit of weight and I actually feel better too. It could very well be coincidental but time will tell I guess. Fortunately I’ve been able to keep my sitting time to a minimum so it hasn’t been an issue and I am pretty happy about that 🙂 There is nothing I hate more than sitting on my butt all day.

  2. This is totally true! I had my first exposure to this idea the first time I was in physical therapy. I felt like I was super active because I was always training for something & running lots of miles every week plus going to my martial arts class, but then the PT made me add up how many hours I spent sitting and it was frightening. Since then I got a standing desk for work, and I try to always go do strength work, yoga, or Pilates on my lunch break. And also not collapse onto the couch as much post-work or post-running, but I’m still guilty of doing that more than I should.

  3. I’ve experienced much of the same thing this summer. During the year when I am at university, I am walking ALOT – around campus, to class, up and down dorm stairs to do laundry, plus exercising a few days a week. Compared to now – I just started marathon training and am up to running 6-11 miles at a time three days a week, plus stretching and strength training – yet gaining weight. I too sit at an 8-5 job everyday, and work on my computer at home at night when I’m not exercising. Thanks for the link to the study – I’ll definitely check it out!

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