Too often in the media we read about the nation's obesity challenge and how it should be addressed through changing what we eat and drink – the “calories in” component of the ever-important energy balance equation. But very rarely do we read, hear or see media reports on the importance of “calories out” – that is, burning calories through day-to-day activity and exercise.
Admittedly, lots of things have changed in our lifestyle when it comes to what we eat and drink. But just as much has changed when it comes to our activity levels – or in many cases, our sedentary lifestyles. Sitting at computers for lengthy periods of time, playing video games, driving our cars whenever possible, living in less walkable communities – all of these things can contribute to weight gain if we are taking in more than we’re burning off.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published its first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines describe the types and amounts of physical activity that offer health benefits to Americans. And the Department even has a number of fact sheets and tool kits to help you be more active.
Physical activity can play a critical role in helping you balance the calories you consume – which is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and overall good health. So every once in a while, take a moment to get up from your computer and walk around the office – not only will you get some exercise, but you may get to know your colleagues a bit better. And when you get home this evening, perhaps pull your children away from the video games and get outside for a bike ride – you’ll all feel better in the end.