Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Pedometers and Calories

Things seem to be going well the last couple of weeks. I’ve dropped about a lb a week each week. I’m still at 83.6 kg, which is higher than my all-time low of 79.8 kg, and I would really, really like to lose another 10 kg, but things are under control. And the most important thing is that I’ve managed to stay on the diet so far for 690 days without going off program even once. And I’m down a net of 42.4 kg = 93 lb since starting.

Anyway, what I wanted to mention here was my new way of counting “walking exercise calories”.

My previous method used calories per minute and speed. For example, at my current weight, the charts show that at my “power walk” speed I burn 8.1 calories/minute.

On the other hand, for “slow walking and shopping” the same charts show 3 calories/minute.

What’s always bothered me about these numbers is that I often do something in-between, so I am never sure if I am calculating fairly.

For example, if I am shopping but spending more than half my time walking at power-walk speeds from store to store it seems like I am not crediting enough exercise calories used.

On the other hand, if I’m out for a few hours shopping but have spent half that time slowly gazing at large panel TV sets it seems that I’m not really using 3 calories/minute doing that, so I am crediting myself too much.

Plus, while on exercise walks I would like to be able to stop from time to time and chat with neighbors and play with their dogs, etc.

So what I did was this:

My sister sent me a pedometer some time ago, which I hadn’t used. I started using it!

I “calibrated” it first by doing a 15 minute walk non-stop at my known “power walk” speed. Thus I had a very good idea of how many calories I used for the steps recorded on the pedometer. This comes to a little more than 0.075 calories per step.

So lately when I go out I always clip on the pedometer and when I get back record the steps. It makes going out on walking errands more fun! (Note: I admire people who can do 10,000 steps a day. I think that would be very very time-consuming!)

I have compared the “time method” with the “steps method” and have found a very close correlation with the 8.1/3 figures above for when I am constantly moving around at high speed or deliberately going at “shopping speed”. So this new way of calculating helps me take into account the more usual kinds of outdoor walking excursions, which is a mix of speeds, plus start and stopping.

doug

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