Managing weight

Managing Weight

Burning off kilojoules is the key to weight management, so the longer you can be active the better, but build it up slowly. A sudden large increase in physical activity could cause injury. If your activity levels are making you uncomfortable slow down, stop or change to another type of activity. If you have an existing health problem or are overweight, consult your doctor before starting to increase your activity levels.
A good way to tell if your activity is at the right level is to use the 'talk test', i.e. you should still be able to talk whilst doing the activity (unless you are under water!); if you can't then you are working too hard. Feeling slightly puffed and sweaty indicates that you are exercising at about the right intensity. At this level you are more likely to feel better, and feel able to stay active because the feeling is enjoyable.

What happens to the energy we get from food?

Just being: Energy is used for all basic functions - heart beating, lungs breathing, and liver, kidneys and brain performing their functions. The amount of energy needed to keep these basic functions going while you are at rest is called your Basal (or Resting) Metabolic Rate (BMR or RMR). It keeps your body ticking and uses about 60-70% of your energy intake. BMR varies between individuals. For men, BMR is approximately 7000 kj per day, and for women it is approximately 6000 kj per day. Men have a higher BMR than women largely because they have a higher proportion of muscle cells that burn more energy than fat cells.
Using food: When you digest food, energy is required to break the food down into nutrients that the body can use. This uses about 10-15% of your energy intake.
Moving: Every time you move you use up kilojoules - having a shower, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, collecting the mail, cutting up vegetables, ironing, walking up stairs, hanging washing, mowing the lawn, shopping. Even fidgeting uses energy - some studies have shown that people who fidget are less likely to be overweight! Activities such as sports, brisk walking or a bike ride will burn extra energy on top of that used in normal daily activities. 'Moving' burns up about 20% of the energy you consume.
Adapted from: Diet Addiction, Glenn Cardwell, Wellness Australia Pty Ltd, WA 1994


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