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How to make better use of your energy in your daily life

It is important to know how to use energy, save and be efficient, but… do we do the same with our vital energy? In this post we talk about your energy and how to get the most out of it every day.

Our bodies consume 60-70% of our energy every day, between 1,200 and 1,400 kilocalories, on natural, essential tasks like breathing, pumping blood, sleeping, thinking and eating.

The rest, between 30% and 40%, is divided up among our other tasks, an amount that can be increased if we add these tasks to our routine, or increase the time spent on them, and also the way we tackle them.

So, for example, constantly increasing your physical activity, with its resulting consumption of energy, has beneficial effects on your health by increasing your energy consumption, and even whether you are standing or sitting, depending on your job, will make a significant difference.

But we must never forget that there is an energy balance between what we consume and what we use which we have to keep track of. Our energy is limited and, just as we divide it up between beneficial activities, we can do the same thing by reducing it in others that are not as beneficial so as to safeguard this balance. But for this reason it is important to know where the energy you use up in your daily life  goes and how to use it in the most beneficial way possible.

"We must never forget that there is an energy balance, between what we consume and what we use, which must be taken care of".

Stand up instead of always sitting down

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the great enemies of health. It affects everyone, but especially those who spend a lot of time sitting down without hardly moving, because of their work. And this is because the difference in consumption is enormous. Sitting still leads to an expenditure of approximately 1 kcal per kilogram of weight per hour, while standing uses double this amount, or 2 kcal/kg per hour. So, a person weighing 75 kilograms will use up 75 kcal per hour while sitting down and 150 if standing up during the same time. All of this makes it important for you to stand up as much as possible, or at least to do it every so often.

Although consumption while sitting down varies, if you perform other tasks, even the simplest ones, your consumption increases significantly. Just by talking while sitting down, consumption rises by 50% to 1.5 kcal/kg per hour.

Get moving to go to work or to other activities

One of the tasks that is repeated the most on weekdays is going to work and the way you do this has a very different energy consumption. On public transport, the consumption is the same as we saw before for sitting or standing, with the advantage that part of the journey is done on foot. But if you go by car and you are the one driving, your consumption rises 140% compared to when you are just sitting, up to 2.4 kcal/kg per hour.

This is not the same as if you are walking, although in this case it will depend on the pace and the contours of the surface you are walking on. So, walking slowly on the flat leads to an expenditure of 3 kcal/kg per hour; at a normal pace it rises to about 3.5 kcal/kg per hour; and walking quickly, it rises to 4 kcal/kg per hour. But as we have said, a sloping surface also influences the result, for better or for worse. On a 5% slope consumption shoots up between 20% to 40% depending on whether your pace is slower or faster.

If you live in a city with electric bicycles, you can burn calories by while doing the environment a favour.

Climbing stairs…. But also going down them

Do you take the lift at work or at home? If you do, you save a lot of energy or waste a lot of consumption that could be very beneficial for getting in shape. So, climbing the stairs uses 6 kcal/kg per hour, very significant consumption.

But, contrary to what many people think, going down the stairs also involves a significant expenditure of energy, specifically 3 kcal/kg hour, the equivalent of walking on the flat at a moderate pace.

Housework, significant consumption

Not just sport is exercise: housework also involves significant energy consumption. Making the bed, for example, uses up 3 kcal/kg per hour. But there are more intensive tasks, for example, sweeping or scrubbing involves an expenditure of about 3.6 kcal/kg per hour and vacuuming 4 kcal/kg per hour, the same as taking a walk at a rapid pace, consumption that the new automatic vacuum cleaners are going to eliminate.

 

Arguing also drains your energy

But don’t think that it is only moving around that consumes energy, arguing also consumes energy. We already mentioned that talking, even if you are sitting, accounts for 1.5 kcal/kg hour, but if you do it when you are angry your consumption can shoot up to 2.5 kcal/kg per hour.

How is this possible? The answer is that it raises your heart rate. When you argue, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline. This in turn increases the amount of sugar in the blood and the result is an accelerated heart rate that increases energy expenditure, but with some negative effects, like raising the blood pressure.

Exercise for all

A healthier consumption of energy is that which occurs when you exercise. What is positive is that with any exercise you can achieve this higher consumption and thus use up calories and gain other positive effects. You need to choose the sport that best suits you, depending on your physical condition.

"The healthiest consumption of energy is that which occurs when exercising".

The simplest exercise of all is to walk fast or run. We have already pointed out that walking fast leads to an expenditure of 4 kcal/kg per hour, but if you run you raise it by 50% to 6 kcal/kg per hour and 8 kcal/kg hour if you do it at a fast pace of more than 8 kilometres an hour. This means that a 75 kg person who runs for an hour at a normal pace will consume 450 kcal.

Swimming consumes less, 7 kcal in freestyle, but up to 10 kcal/kg hour in the case of water polo, one of the most complete sports, and 11 kcal/kg in the case of competitive swimming. Riding a bicycle consumes 6.5 kcal/kg an hour, playing tennis 7, skiing 8 and even a sport that seems rather sedate, such as playing golf, 4.75.

In short, in our daily lives, in everyday activities, as well as in other more unusual activities, we consume a lot of energy, so small changes, even in the way we handle our everyday challenges, will determine our energy consumption.

 

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