Using the gym to burn off those Calories

Is this not what we all aim for? Article No. 6

Can we use the gym to burn off those calories? This is a question we all ask and hope for. Do check out Michael Moseley’s TV programme at the end of my article covering High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT

Remember it is all about a balance! doom/

My gym series was taking me where the pen fell and what activity I was doing. My aim was to lose weight, improve my heart and blood pressure, feel fit and live forever!  No – just kidding; my time will come whatever, but seriously I prefer to avoid diabetes, strokes and see if I can keep my heart from disease. I’m keen in human movement as a podiatrist. Family history tells me to look after my aortic heart valve. (Click valve to see a cut away of this part of the heart). Now into this third week and I planned three sessions. 

Reading score = 74 (Easy)

Okay so what gives us the best boost to lose calories?

When it comes to swimming, jogging, cycling and walking – swimming comes out on top. If you use the units of time (in minutes) to burn off 200 calories in a 65 kg female, 17 minutes will do the job versus 23 for jogging, 31 for cycling and 56 for walking. As a male at 60 something, I need 1600 if sedentary (writing) and 2200 for more a active day. Of course eating is not about stuffing a specific number of calories in. Much of diet is about balanced eating. Some food will have more calories than others. I binge out on vegetables but try to lessen my meat / fish intake. 

Chocolate bars

On Monday I was talking about cardiac output. Today it’s about chocolate bars!  Give a thought to the packet of biscuits or chocolate you consume. Nice but naughty. You might think in terms of how much exercise will I need to give me permission to eat that nice but naughty bar. First of all treats are okay just don’t go mad, that’s what I tell myself and generally I’m okay. I guess exercising to eat more does not work as it is self defeating. Life is a balance we keep hearing. I allow myself 2 pieces of dark chocolate a day having given up on milk chocolate. There are some benefits strangely to having 70% dark chocolate or above this percentage.

What is the difference between kJ and kcal (and Calorie)

“Kilojoules (kJ), and calories (kcal), are both units that measure energy. Our program uses kcal to measure your energy intake and energy used. If you would prefer, you can convert kcals to kJs by multiplying by 4.18 (100 kcals = 418 kJ).
A kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water one degree Celsius. The “calorie” we refer to in food is actually kilocalorie. One (1) kilocalorie is the same as one (1) Calorie (upper case C).”

The NHS link is useful if you want to explore a bit more about calories and food. The statement above was from the internet from a US source.

Exercising for calorie loss

Calories and all that we do in the gym can lead us to feeling depressed if these little devils  don’t go away. We are all different and our timing (metabolism) is set by our genes and hormones. So having what calories are what we want to do is to remove excess stores. In my case as my fat storage diminishes my face will show the effect before my stomach. This means my cheek bones will become more prominent. As a man, my fat stores are in different places to my female partner. See the extract from an article below.

Fat Distribution and Metabolism in Women

Women are genetically engineered to carry more fat on their bodies than men. The body fat percentage of a healthy, active woman is 18-20%, whereas this figure is 10-15% for men. This is because, physiologically, women’s bodies naturally like to prepare to nourish a growing baby, and our fat reserves help us do that. Women begin to develop these precious fat reserves during puberty.

Women don’t just carry more fat than men—fat is also distributed differently throughout the body. While fat distribution is different for everyone and has roots in where your ancestors lived, women tend to store their fat in their hips, buttocks, thighs, and lower abdomen. The fat needed for pregnancy and nursing is stored in a woman’s thighs. In fact, gluteofemoral fat—that which develops on the butt and legs—is actually a sign of strong metabolic health, regardless of how it makes you look in your jeans. Women also store more subcutaneous fat—fat that’s under the skin and provides a layer of insulation over the muscles, and that also gives women’s bodies their softer curves—than visceral fat. Visceral fat is more of a health risk, as it builds up around internal organs instead of between the skin and muscle.

It’s true—women actually burn fat more efficiently than men. Women’s bodies make more triglycerides than men, but this doesn’t have much effect on serum levels. That means that fat is being used more efficiently by a woman’s body than it is by a man’s. The hormones that make a woman a woman play a part in fat metabolism, too, creating more omega-3 fatty acids faster than men.

All of this means that women carry more fat, but they tend to carry it in a healthier, more easily managed way than men. We bet you didn’t know that! (an article from Erchonia accessed 12/8/20)

Choice of weapons

The key choices falls to SPEED. Pumping muscle is not going to be as effective as swimming. Now I don’t like swimming in anything colder than 20 degrees so I am not going swimming in the sea. I don’t want to swim in a pool because my neck pain worsens, so I have to go for speed. The treadmill allows me to jog, but I have to be careful of that knee injury. I put in 10 minutes today building up slowly through the speeds. I set the incline at 2.5% gradient. This creates more effort. I increase the speed from zero to 4.5 Kph (2.3 mph) and then up to my target speed, which today is 8Kph (5 mph). If I go too high I will suffer knee pain so I am cautious and find my maxima. I finish at 10 minutes and have used 100 calories. 

I can go to my bike of which there are 2 types. Or there are the 2 types of cross trainer. Incidentally my gym carries out fitness apartheid as only one choice exists since we opened, however I am hopeful the manager will take pity on me as I have dropped a letter off explaining my reasons. Both bike and trainer will help with the calorie loss. Although I prefer the bike, it is very hot, and I need to go to the post office. I head for the rowing machine  as I have not really had a good work out on the rower for a while. As mentioned in the article below, the rower is good for joints, unlike the treadmill.

High Intensity concept of training

With less time, the rowing machine fits my time limit. Meagan Francis’ article (2019) is useful and just sets the scene a bit for rowing. She also covers the concept of High intensity interval training (HIIT). I mentioned HIIT but without the title in an early article. It all comes down to how much time you want to spend. I select my rowing machine and go for 10 minutes starting easy-ish. I build up by five minutes and start to pump. I am now feeling that sweat, but my breathing is good and not erratic. I reckon my cardiac output is around 70% of the maximum at a guess. I can’t measure my pulse but I can measure my calories for 10 minutes; 73 used calories. 

So I leave the gym this Wednesday having concentrated on my back and neck and done some basic weights. I reckon to have lost 250-300 calories, more so because of the heat and burn up. Am I down about this low amount? No, this is how it goes. I could lose more, and I will do some walking today and tomorrow so will add to the loss. I could do more sessions and eventually stay longer, as some do. My day is one of balance and choice. Being older I am less impetuous owing to the scars and injuries of years past.

As long as I don’t out pace my body’s need, I will lose weight, but it is going to be slow if I don’t want to hurt myself. Heck, anyway I want to enjoy this style of gym-fitness. 

Next time I am going to look at gadgets and gizmos and units of measurement. Plus I get to measure my weight loss over the week.


If you want to know more about HIIT I can recommend Dr Michael Mosely’s BBC programme on fitness which gives facts and figures with volunteers helping out. It is a good watch and gets five stars from me for both entertainment and value. CLICK HERE

A word of warning 

You can read more about me 

Thanks for reading my article ‘Calories and all that we do in the gym‘. This is a series on using the gym and considering health issues in older patrons. 

Published by Busypencilcase Reflective Communications under Consultingfootpain.

Updated 9th November 2020
Original post August