Oh, the rare and lovely days where we actually get to feel like we've done nothing at all. Even while we’re being completely lazy, our bodies are obviously still very busy (they've got a big show to run).
The number of calories burned at rest is called the basal metabolic rate, and it’s a measure of how much energy your body uses just to keep all of your complex bodily functions up and running and in check (i.e. your body temperature regulated, your heart beating, your brain humming, and so on).
The concept of burning off the body's energy stores while doing absolutely nothing is kind of exciting, until you realize how little you would have to eat in order to avoid putting on extra weight.
How many Calories do I Burn doing Nothing?
Here’s the formula to find your resting metabolic rate:
For Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
For Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)
Another lazier way to get a (very rough) estimate is to multiply your body weight in lbs by 11.
By now we all know that weight maintenance or loss is a matter of energy burned versus energy consumed, and it's clear that exercise can significantly increase the food that we can eat each day without putting on extra weight.
Here is part of the reason why I think many of us are overweight; it's very easy to do nothing (or close to it) without even realizing it, and we very rarely are conscious enough of our activity levels to adjust our diets to reflect the small number of calories we are burning.
For example, consider the recommendation of taking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. Averaging this many miles a day (roughly 5) would do a good job of increasing the amount of food you can eat, and keeping extra weight off - so long as you were not overindulging at the dinner table on a regular basis. Unfortunately, very few people actually cover that distance; most people average around 3,500 steps a day. Hitting around only 30% of your daily recommended steps gives you very little extra room to eat above the number of calories that are burned at rest (that resting basal metabolic number).
If you have been struggling with weight or find that diets just aren’t working for you, it’s likely that you need to take an honest look at your activity levels. There are plenty of lots of different options, ranging from complex calorie counting systems that have the capacity to tell you how much you burn throughout the day, to simple, dirt-cheap pedometers that can at least give you a snapshot of how much distance you cover in a day.
Yes, the body burns calories while you are otherwise doing nothing at all, but that energy is easily consumed in the food that you eat if you don’t add some intentional movement into your day. Lazy days are fantastic; just make sure that you don’t go too many days in a row without having left the couch.
Check out Fitness Blender’s full length home workout videos for ideas on how to get in a good sweat (without moving too far away from the couch).