Activities of daily living are also key

Getty Images/SuperStock. Women sorting rice grains in a factory, the kind of labor-intensive work now in decline.

Not all exercise has to be formal.  As we’ve mentioned, walking to the store, or taking public transportation to work or school can help with weight maintenance or weight loss.

However, Americans aren’t as active as they used to be.  A new study, reported in the journal PLOS and described in the NY Times, explains:

In the early 1960’s almost half the jobs in private industry in the U.S. required at least moderate intensity physical activity whereas now less than 20% demand this level of energy expenditure.

Since 1960 the estimated mean daily energy expenditure due to work related physical activity has dropped by more than 100 calories in both women and men.

…Given a baseline weight of 76.9 kg in 1960–02, we estimated that a 142 calories reduction would result in an increase in mean weight to 89.7 kg, which closely matched the mean NHANES weight of 91.8 kg in 2003–06. The results were similar for women.

Add to that the fact that 20% of men in the “working age range” currently do not work in the current US economy, and that many men have lost active construction jobs.

What do I recommend to increase activity at work?

  1. Schedule meetings of 2 or 3 people as “walking meetings.”
  2. Avoid the elevator; use the steps!  Start with “1 up, 2 down.”
  3. Avoid sitting; consider a standing or a treadmill desk.  Sitting is literally deadly!

Check to see how active your job is:

Table 1. Estimated median and range of physical activity intensity (METs) as well as the estimated caloric expenditure of each occupation.

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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