Advice from the Active Spaces project - food or fitness? Why you need to do both to stay healthy.

Blog Post by James Kenyon 05 October 2014

Food or fitness? Why you need both!

Food Vs Fitness

The fine balance between calories consumed and calories burnt becomes a real dilemma for most people wanting to lose weight. To help you with this, I want to go back a few thousand years. Men and women were firstly on earth as hunter-gathers, with this fine balance between calories consumed and calories burnt being their fight for survival. If you burnt more calories hunting for food than you actually gained from eating the food, you would lose weight. Now reverse this, so if you actually consumed more calories from the food you gathered than it had taken you to gather the food - you would gain weight.

Sounds simple right? Well apart from your own personal metabolism, yes - it really is that simple. I will refer to this point in the way of a simple formula:

Weight gained/ weight lost (W)= Calories In (Cin) – Calories Out (Cout)

W = Cin - Cout

If W is a positive number, then weight will be gained.

If W is a negative number, then weight will be lost.

We now no longer hunt for food. We all take the car down to our local supermarket or even click a few times on our mouse and the magical chilled food van drops our food at our door. Very little calories are burnt collecting or ordering our average weekly shop. Quite similar to pressing those few digits on our telephone to order tasty food (which again is delivered by a magical heat retaining bag in a vehicle driven by our friendly neighbourhood driver). Our bodies are tuned in to craving high fat and high sugar foods, as these give us the most calories - an innate survival technique.

The point I’m trying to make is that very few calories are burnt in obtaining our weekly intake of food.

Now onto temperature regulation, where once again I will roll back the clock a thousand years to when we didn’t have a lovely gas fuelled boiler in our house keeping us nice and warm. Shivering alone burns calories, having to exercise to keep warm burns even more. Mr and Mrs Caveman years ago will have gathered wood to burn to keep them warm.  See a similar theme appearing again?

Cutting, splitting and collecting wood burns calories whilst switching on the gas fuelled boiler burns very little calories - though it does burn many of the pound notes we have in our pockets. (I like relating everything back to how much it costs me because I like spending less than I get paid so I have a few extra pounds left at the end of the month to build up my nest egg.)

What does this all mean?

What this all means is that we need to ensure that we’re burning off more calories that we eat.  If we like our food (especially those takeaways) then we need to make sure that we’re taking part in regular exercise to help balance this out.

On average a 30 minute gentle walk burns approximately 200 calories. Compare that to a 30 minute gentle bike ride which burns roughly 400 calories. If you went for a walk or cycle 2-3 times a week, you could happily enjoy a takeaway treat every once in a while – safe in the knowledge that you’ve earned those extra calories!


If you like the idea of this and want to take part in a walk or cycle, you can join our free health walks and cycle sessions through out Active Spaces Burnley and Rossendale project. Get in touch here to sign up. I hope to see you there!


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. 

User Comments

Comments powered by Disqus