Pie in the sky advice

Today, the Department of Health and Ramblers’ Association teamed up to encourage us all to have an active festive break. Now I’m all for that (check out my article, Get Fit, Not Fat, This Christmas on the Articles page) but what I object to is their assertion that ‘even a 1-mile walk makes a difference.’ Frankly, it doesn’t. Think of it this way: the average mince pie weighs in at 250 calories. The average consumption of mince pies (or alternative festive treats) is likely to be in the region of 2-3. The average mile-long walk burns 100 calories. See how that 1-mile stroll isn’t going to have much of an impact on your fitness level, total calorie expenditure or weight gain potential? I wish the relevant authorities would get their messages clear. I think we all agree that the nation is alarmingly sedentary and needs to do more – but the notion that a bit of vigorous housework or gardening or a 1-mile walk is going to tip the scales is pure fallacy. In the huge National Weight Control Study from the US, it was found that people who successfully lost and maintained significant amounts of weight burned 400 calories a day through physical activity – the equivalent of walking 4 miles, every day. So by all means, get out and get some fresh air over Christmas with a post-dinner stroll – but don’t expect it to burn off those extra calories you’ve consumed…!

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