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Is Your Job Contributing To Your Weight?
By: Meg Surmon

I want to follow on from an earlier post about the unexpected weight gain nasties. During a recent conversation with someone who has had surgery which had an unexpectedly long recovery time and even longer term impact on mobility, we discussed the very slow weight gain she experienced.

What we concluded was that the weight gain was small over a three to four month period, as little as 200grams a day perhaps. But the biggest change was the level of incidental activity. With changes to work hours and an inability to get out an about due to persistent pain, incidental activity has significantly decreased.

So I did a little number crunching using the nutritional software I use for dietary assistance. Using the same profile, female, late twenties, 75kg I adjusted the level of activity. The software calculates calorie consumption for weight loss, weight gain and maintenance. So the difference between a sedentary lifestyle (desk work, very little movement, little to no exercise, leisure time is sitting (tv, movies, computers, shopping…) and light life style (desk work, housework, increase in incidental walking each day, exercising more, standing up a lot) was about 150 calories a day. Then the last category I looked at was on the go  (moving around a lot for, not sitting for long periods, always buzzing with activity, exercising also) was a difference of 300 calories between sedentary and active. That could be a whole meal!

To return the previous post about TV watching contributing to weight gain… well a stationary work life might be having the same impact. It would be very easy to underestimate the value of being an active person outside of the gym. I know of someone who lost the last 5kg (always the hardest!) when she changed jobs and had to do a lot more incidental walking on a large site. The job wasn’t more stressful, so it wasn’t that. The extra activity helps to burn calories at the time and contributes to a faster metabolism. Like the twitchers and the knee shakers, who research has shown burn more calories than those of us who sit still!

It also distracted her from the lolly jar in the office and the extra coffee and biscuits. So if the sweets call your name go and walk the stairs, the block, the office, and chances are the craving will pass.

Consider this: sitting around burns about 3 calories a minute; brisk walk outdoors about 5 calories a minute; stairs about 10 calories.  Spend 15 minutes walking to work or at work (75 calories) then 20 minutes a day walking stairs (200 calories) then a brisk walk with the dog after work for 25 minutes (125 calories). Total of 400 calories used up per day in fairly incidental activity that doesn’t require much effort or money. If you aiming to reduce weight this could be the difference, especially if you currently not doing anything during the day at work and continue that theme at home by lounging around in the evening bored and looking for gastronomic entertainment.

Added: 25-08-2011