Measuring the Sedentary Lifestyle

Published on Author GG RayLeave a comment


If you are wondering about why you never seem to lose weight, the answer might just lie in the sedentary lifestyle that most of us lead these days. No longer do we have to chop our own wood to build a fire, nor do we have to work in the fields in order to eat.

Even walking, which is how our ancestors got from point A to point B, is an activity that most of us find pointless these days. And muscles – once the mark of the blue-collar worker – rarely come from hard work, unless you belong to a gym and work out on a regular basis. Even something as simple as sitting versus standing can come with caloric price tag, and all those unused calories have a nasty way of settling around your midsection.

This article will give you some comparisons of daily activities, and the amount of calories it takes to do basic tasks. Knowing how many calories you are taking in and using up is the first step to any serious weight loss plan.

Identifying Your Sedentary Ways

Even if you think you are athletic, the chances are good you do many things everyday that require little or no energy. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does have an impact on how many calories you expend in a twenty-four hour period. Your body is a very smart piece of machinery, which uses exactly what it needs to each day and then stores the rest. Like a computer switching to screensaver mode, your body will immediately reduce its energy usage when resting.

Here is a list that will show some common things we do everyday that use little or no energy, as well as the amount of calories used up for each item. The caloric usage information is from, which has a great calorie counter that can be used to calculate out the calories used for basic tasks. Note – for the purpose of this article, the weight we used was 180 pounds and the length of time was 30 minutes.

Calorie Comparison Chart

1 Beer150 Calories
Glass of wine100 Calories
16-ounce steak500-800 Calories
Medium Pizza400-500 Calories
Chocolate bar200-300 Calories
Cheeseburger300-400 Calories

Mowing the lawn

You burn approximately 225 calories. You could dramatically increase the amount you burn by using a ‘human’ powered push mower. This will increase the length of time you are mowing, as well as require more exertion on your part.

Hand washing dishes

You burn approximately 95 calories. This event could be modified by washing dishes at least twice a day, and avoid using the dishwasher except when you have large loads.

Making the bed

You burn approximately 82 calories. You probably won’t take 30 minutes to make your bed each day, but do you make your bed each day? If you take the time to make your bed everyday, then those few extra calories will add up to serious numbers by the end of the year.


You burn approximately 95 calories. Ironing isn’t easy, and takes a while to master. And yes, we all know how easy it is to drop the clothes off at the cleaners down the street. But if you ironed once a week for an hour, you would burn off nearly 200 calories and save money.

Working at your desk

You burn approximately 60 calories (1,000 calories for the entire day). Although this number may sound impressive, your body is basically in neutral. If you get up and walk around every 30 minutes, or practice some stretching in your chair, you can increase your caloric needs exponentially.


You burn approximately 225 calories. Dancing is a fun way to get into shape and to burn off those extra pounds. You burn almost four times as much dancing as you do sitting at work.

Washing your car

You burn approximately 125 calories. Nothing on earth is easier than taking your car through the car wash, but why waste another opportunity to burn some calories? If you need more incentive, you will do a much better job than the automatic car wash, and you won’t snap off your antenna.

Watching TV

You burn approximately 40 – 50 calories. To make matters worse, the odds are good you are snacking as well. But watching TV can be turned into an opportunity, just avoid the snacks and try combining it with exercise. Buy an exercise bike and try to do about 15 minutes of cardio for every hour of TV watching.

Walking the dog

You burn approximately 145 calories. Have you ever seen an overweight professional dog walker? Don’t just let the dog run around its own in the backyard. Grab the leash and take it for a long walk, and try and combine some fun with it – fetch, Frisbee, etc.

Walking to work (medium pace)

You burn approximately 125 calories. You may not have time to walk to work everyday, but it is good to rotate the walk in once a week – if possible. You may also want to consider biking to work, or even getting off the subway/train/bus a few stops before your place of business. Those minor changes add up! If you increase your pace to a brisk walk, your calorie usage increase to 165/half hour.

Final thoughts

The point of this article is to help you to identify ways in which you can burn extra calories in your day-to-day routine. A sedentary lifestyle is part of our everyday existence, but there are still many ways you can increase your caloric output without making a major lifestyle change. Getting into the habit of doing things in a more active way can add up to a lot of burned calories, which will result in a healthier lifestyle and a lower body mass. Think of all the little changes you can make in one week, and how those calories can add up at the end of one year.

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