Exercise Realities

By Charlyn Fargo

We all know that exercise is an important for achieving a healthy lifestyle. But there’s a reality that we also need to know: Exercise alone will not help us reach our weight loss goals, especially if we’re eating a high-calorie diet filled with processed foods, solid fats and added sugar.

It’s true that exercise burns calories, but there is a common misperception about just how long it takes to burn enough calories to equal the calories in a meal, snack, or drink. How long does it take to work off what we eat?

More time than we typically think.

Here are a few examples, based on a 150-pound person:

  • That quarter pound burger with cheese, at 520 calories, will take 1 hour and 19 minutes of walking. Add large fries, at 510 calories, and it’s another 1 hour and 17 minutes. Put a large soda, at 280 calories, and you need another 43 minutes of walking. That’s over 3 hours of walking, just to burn off lunch.
  • If you choose 2 pieces of fried chicken, at 490 calories, it would take 1 hour and 14 minutes of walking to burn the calories.
  • Half of a frozen pizza, at 660 calories, would require 1 hour and 40 minutes of walking to burn it off.
  • A bag of chips, at 320 calories, needs 49 minutes of walking to burn it off.
  • A large sweetened iced tea, at 180 calories, would require 27 minutes of walking, and a large sports drink (20 oz), at 130 calories, would require 20 minutes of walking.
  • A cinnamon roll, at 880 calories, would need 2 hours and 14 minutes of walking.

Too often we “reward” ourselves for our workouts with a little extra food. That can sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Rather than trading exercise time for food, try to choose healthier options that fuel your body and your workouts with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy. Combining good choices with an exercise routine is the best way to stay fit.

If you want to track your own activity progress, try the Exercise and Calorie calculator by Food and Health. It’s at https://foodandhealth.com/excalc.php.

You simply choose an activity (aerobics, yoga, walking, etc), then enter the amount of time you will take to do it. Fill in your weight in pounds, then click “Compute”. You’ll end up with a number of calories burned. The figures are based on moderate activity levels. If your workouts are more vigorous, you can add a few calories to the number you burn. A heavier person burns more calories, so the same amount of physical activity can actually burn the same number of calories but more quickly. But remember, exercising harder and faster only increases the calories expended slightly. To burn more calories it is better to exercise for a longer time.

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About the author

Charlyn Fargo spent 27 years at the State Journal-Register covering agriculture, business and food. She currently is the Bureau Chief of County Fairs & Horse Racing with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She is also a Registered Dietitian and writes a weekly syndicated nutrition column for Creator’s News Service (www.creators.com) and is co-owner of Simply Fair, a fair trade boutique at 2357 W. Monroe in Springfield. She has bachelor’s degrees in agricultural communications and food from the University of Illinois, Champaign and a master’s degree in nutrition from Eastern Illinois University. She and her husband, Brad Ware, have a daughter, Kate, and son, Jayden. When she’s not working or writing, she enjoys baking cookies for Simply From Scratch, a company she formed to support faith-based ministries.

View all articles by Charlyn Fargo

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