Why Busy Stay-at-Home Mums Need Less Exercise than Working Dads!


Images of post-baby celebs who seem to bounce back to their pre-baby weight in less time than it takes to change a nappy are disheartening for most new mums.  Little wonder we sigh as their entourage of dieticians, caterers, personal trainers and nannies enable the starlet in question to eat well, exercise regularly and get a good night’s sleep.

But there is good news for everyday mums who stay at home after baby is born.  The physical demands of the job are such that these mums actually need less formal exercise than desk-bound dads. Their offspring become personal trainers, the house is their gym and they’re able to have greater control over their diet than those out in the workplace.

Read on to discover the five essential facts that explain why mums at home are fitter and how dads in the office can make simple changes to avoid ordering an XXL office chair.

1. Calorie Calculations.
2. Why Daily Activity is so NEAT?
3. The ‘Houseworkout’ – Where do the Calories Go?
4. The Hidden Calories in Shop-Bought Sarnies.
5. Smarter Working Dads Work NEATer.
6. And Finally…


1. Calorie Calculations.


Let’s start with the basics, or to be more exact, the basal metabolic rate (BMR).  This is the energy everybody requires every day to keep everything functioning nicely – heartbeat, body temperature, brain activity and so on.  It’s here that the boys are at an advantage over the girls since they are typically taller and have greater muscle mass and so consume a greater number of calories at rest.

According to the USDA active men require 2,400 to 3,000 calories per day while active women need under half that at just 1,200 to 1,400 calories. There are obviously variables like height and age that make a difference so if you want to be exact you can work out your and your partner’s BMR using the following calculations:

Male BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
Female BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

So with a daily advantage of as much as 1,800 calories it would seem the office-based dad would find it easier to maintain weight when compared to the mum at home.



2. Why Daily Activity is so NEAT?


N.E.A.T. stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and its ‘discovery’ is credited to Dr. James Levine.  In his own words, “You can expend calories in one of two ways. One is to go to the gym and the other is through all the activities of daily living called NEAT” His research has concluded that…

“It appears that NEAT is far more important for calorie-burning than exercise in nearly everyone."

What’s neat about NEAT is that you don’t have to bust a gut to reap rewards, simple activities like walking, standing while doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, picking up baby, mowing the lawn and so on collectively and continually consume calories and build a level of fitness because you are in effect endurance training.

Needless to say these daily tasks generally fall to the stay at home mum so while dad may be stronger and faster the chances are he won’t have half the staying power of mum, making her basic fitness level higher.


3. The ‘Houseworkout’ – Where do the Calories Go?


It may surprise you when you tot up the calories how much energy is needed to complete everyday domestic tasks.

For example walking requires 100 calories per mile for a person weighing 160lbs but if you walk faster, walk uphill, push a buggy and/or weigh more the calorie expenditure is even higher. The average school run in the UK today is 1.5 miles and the average toddler walks 2.5 miles a day – that’s an opportunity to burn a high number of calories every single day.

We’ve put a list together of the averages for other domestic duties.  Use it to calculate the cumulative effect of your daily chores….


Based on the above an average mum typically needs 400 calories extra per day and if she can incorporate formal exercise on top she’ll come close to needing at least as many calories as a man to maintain her weight.


4.  The Hidden Calories in Shop-Bought Sarnies.


Another plus side for at home for mums is the ability to plan every meal and control the contents of everything she eats.  Even when that includes ready meals, which are often calorie-laden, it is easy to look at the labels to establish how many calories, how much fat and how much nutrition there is in every meal.

For those working in an office the mix of catering provided for meetings, cakes brought in by co-workers for their birthdays and lunch meetings at nice restaurants makes calorie calculation nigh impossible.

And while many major retailers now create and label food from their lunch range, they also encourage participation in meal deals that can raise the calories of a lunch by 100% again with the addition of a can of fizzy drink and a packet of crisps.

Added to which countless research and reports have found high levels of salt, saturated fats and unnecessary calories in shop-bought sarnies.

We say make time to pack your own lunch every morning, you’ll burn about 25 calories each day performing this simple task and save many more compared with over the counter alternatives.


5. Smarter Working Dads Work NEATer.


As a nation – whether working in an office or running a home we are becoming increasingly sedentary as the national rise in obesity, heart disease and diabetes too depressingly demonstrates.

If "moving more" to achieve a high NEAT was as simple as that we wouldn’t need to control calories in with considered food consumption and up calories out with formal exercise.  But the truth is modern life has divorced activity from work for the vast majority of people.  It is very typical for an office worker to drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive home and then go to the gym!

However we can, by adopting a few simple changes day in day out, get ourselves moving and so improve our general well-being and calorie consumption.  We can ‘be active naturally’ even if we hold down an office job.

So, just like the stay at home mums the office-working dads might like to consider…




6. And Finally….


We’re not so daft to think all mums stay at home while all dads go to work.  In this era of family friendly working and in an economy where one salary rarely supports the average family, parents these days most often both blend work and family life in a challenging but rewarding juggle.

The great news for all is that whatever the context – home or work - every parent can enjoy household chores and adapt their working practises to increase their NEAT, consume more calories and enjoy greater fitness.

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