“Burn, baby burn…”

Dr. Paul Ton, my high school history teacher, and one of my all-time favorite teachers, had a highly effective, piercing stare, and when a class was disrupted by something going on in the hallway he could really crank it up, and add a verbal whammy. At said upheaval, he would slowly turn his icy glare towards the door and intone, simply, “Burn, baby, burn…”

I don’t think he was on a heath kick, nor was he a disco fanatic – even though it was the 70’s

“Burn, baby, burn…” had the intended effect when used by Dr. Ton back in the day, but it is also a useful mantra if you’re trying to drop a few pounds like me.

A while back I was perusing health and wellness sites on the Internet looking at various calorie and exercise tracking devices and found an interesting array of tools and approaches to using them. I stick to well-known, reputable sites; major universities, known health care systems, major insurance companies. Most of these sites that have interactive, on-line charts as opposed to downloadable forms, especially since I’m really into this whole 21st century technology thing.

“Burn, baby, burn…”

I love the places where you can plug-in key demographic figures like height and weight, and the site will generate a list of how approximately how many calories you’ll burn doing whatever the activity is for the given time frame; a very nifty setup. I usually chose 10 minutes as a base increment for most any activity: it’s easy to multiply and tastes great, too.

What I find interesting is less the methodology, as most of the results I have received vary only slightly, and the formatting leads me to believe that they are all using the same basic algorithms and such, but each site has its own, unique spin on how various activities are categorized and labeled.

While most everyone agrees on the basic exercise stuff like aerobics, jogging and bike riding, the sites break other things down so much differently, and go off in different directions. For example, ‘dancing’ appears on most sites, and some break it down into modern or traditional. One site goes even further:

Dancing: disco, ballroom, square, line, Irish step, polka 59.6 Dancing: slow, waltz, foxtrot, tango, fox trot 39.7

Come on. Will I really burn 50% more calories disco dancing than tangoing? I may have to verify that firsthand with my wife. Where’s my boombox…and a rose to clench in my teeth?

There is also this ‘everyday’ entry:

Frisbee: general 39.7 Frisbee: Ultimate 106

Okay, the Frisbee one I’ll buy, but they left off the third, most obvious option: playing Frisbee with your dog.  2-for-1 fitness!

One of the great features about sites like this is the compare-and-contrast options; if you are looking for a new exercise regimen to incorporate something new to keep you motivated, these sites are great. For example, at a glance I know that I can burn twice as many calories snowshoeing as I can snorkeling (Seems reasonable) I also learn that synchronized swimming burns 33% more calories than swimming in a lake, river or ocean (I’m skeptical, given currents, riptides, etc. in actual bodies of water. But, okay.)

“Burn, baby, burn…”

It’s the daily household activities section of these sites that I enjoy most.

Childcare and housecleaning are dead even, burn wise, according to the fine folks at one health insurance company site, at 39.7 calories burned in ten minutes (.7 calories?) Making your bed is fairly light on the burn scale, though you’ll knock of the cals twice as fast doing hospital corners as you would as a  couch potato watching General Hospital, no surprise there. For the household-activities record, ironing trumps them both, plus you’ll feel that great bicep-burn…if you forget to remove your shirt before you iron it.

But my favorite how-many-calories-you’ll-burn segment of these sites is always the romance and sex department.

“Burn, baby, burn…”

First off, most sites agree that you burn roughly seven calories for every minute of kissing; no allowances could I find on any site for intensity or form of said kissing, so we’ll stick with the seven cals, or approximately seventy calories for my little 10 minute time chunk. Not bad, but I can probably do better. (The exception here was About.com, who put the 10 minute kissing burn at only 14.3 calories total. Who-or-what were they kissing for ten minutes?)

One major east-coast hospital website breaks the, uh…intimacy down as follows: ‘Sex – foreplay’ and ‘Sex – Intercourse.’ (Please pardon the graphic language).  Using my 10-minute mantra, this particular site breaks it down to only 19 calories burned on the foreplay, but 56 for the actual getting-to-it. Seems reasonable, and follows most of the directives I’ve seen on building up steam toward optimal workout efficiency at shedding calories.

“Burn, baby, burn…”

For the record, I generally stay away from websites with kitschy names like caloriesperhour.com, but do kinda enjoy WebMD.com’s Fit-o-Meter. Befitting their exalted and mainstream place in cyberspace, they have a whole section devoted to the more genteel ‘Getting Romantic’ with three sub categories:
‘active, vigorous’,
‘general, moderate’ and
‘passive, light, kissing, hugging’

Now who doesn’t like a little ‘passive romance’ from time to time?  Yeah, I don’t know what that means either.

“Burn, baby, burn…”

Finally, this particular health and wellness site listing is a bit of a head-scratcher for me:The fact that all of these things are listed under the heading ‘Daily Life Activities’ is interesting, but to tell me that a 10 minute game of four-square is going to burn three times the calories as 10 minutes of ‘moderate effort’ sex? (And they don’t even include the far-sexier tether-ball alternative. Go figure.) I guess I know what we’re doing Saturday night; “C’mon, baby! Grab that big yellow ball – we’re going to the playground!”

Funny thing about this whole calorie burning business; not one site I have seen has yet proffered a calorie-burn listing for ‘blog writing’.

“Burrrn, baby, burn…”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s