Activity is easily overlooked when it comes to understanding why your body is feeling lethargic or energetic. Exercise, an essential part of an active lifestyle, is a great medium to accelerate fat loss and increase muscle mass. It is also the top prescription for depression with the highest rate of improvement. Exercise is essential to increasing your overall fitness. However, exercising one hour every day only equals 6% of your awake time.
What are you doing with the other 94%?
Your trainer can only hold your hand for 6% of your awake time and the other 94% is up to you. It's common for people to misinterpret a busy schedule for an active lifestyle. When you break down a busy day you start to realize how inactive it is. Check out the chart below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ask yourself, of each category, "Am I active or inactive?" (continued below)
Inactivity significantly decreases the daily caloric burn. Once you start tracking your activity you can start to make improvements. Parking your car farther from the entrance at work, taking the stairs, going for a walk at lunch, or an evening bike ride can all improve your activity and your overall caloric burn. The little stuff make a big difference.
When you combine exercise and an active lifestyle your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories you burn at rest, can increase. High intensity interval training has been shown to temporarily boost RMR, increasing muscle mass drastically boosts RMR, and walking/moving can also boost daily caloric burn. It is time to start moving!
An excellent way to figure out if you are active or just busy is to wear an activity tracker. The goal is 10,000 steps a day. You may need to start at 6-8,000 steps and work up to the full 10,000. There are numerous fitness trackers on the market today and it can be hard to pick one. One easy solution can be a smart phone since most of them have health apps built in. The down side of this is that a smart phone may not be on you at all times of the day.
The alternative to the phone is a wearable device. Fitbit is the most popular and I personally prefer the Misfit Shine/Ray. Both do a great job tracking activity and sleep, but both have a few issues with straps breaking. The Fitbit Flex can be switched between old and new straps so buy a few extra straps. The Misfit Shine can pop out of the sports band so I recommend buying a premium band. The reason I prefer the Misfit Shine is because it has a watch battery and can last months without needing to be replaced or charged. The misfit is also water proof, a nice feature for a swimmer like me. (continued below)