Understanding Your Basal Metabolic Rate – BMR

kicking punching bag

The term ‘metabolic rate’ refers to the energy or calories you expend over a day just keeping your body functioning; for example, keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing etc. this is often called the basal or resting metabolic rate. Basal metabolic rate is defined as the minimum calorific requirement or the number of calories your body will burn when you are resting or sleeping in bed. Your BMR would decrease as you age. Also, depriving yourself of food also decreases your BMR. To raise your BMR, you need to exercise, which would then improve your health and fitness.

You can calculate your BMR using a formula and based on this you can also calculate your daily calorie needs using the Harris Benedict Equation. The equation is accurate but the very muscular people may underestimate their calorie needs and the obese individuals may overestimate their calorie needs.

BMR formula for men:

66+ (13.7 X weight in Kg) + (5 X height in cm) – (4.7 X age in years)

You can also calculate it online by using a calculator here.

BMR is responsible for burning up to 70 per cent of calories spent. In addition to calories burnt due to BMR, calories are also required for respiration, blood circulation and maintenance of body temperature. BMR is the most important factor used to determine the metabolic rate and how many calories you need to maintain, lose or gain weight. Some people are born with faster metabolism while others with slow metabolism. Those with slow metabolism may get fat even without eating and those with fast metabolism remain lean even when they eat a lot.

Since men have a greater muscle mass and a lower body fat percentage than women, they have a higher BMR. Interestingly, the heavier you weight, higher is your BMR. Greater is your body surface area, you have high BMR, for example tall thin people have higher BMR. The other factors which affect your BMR are body fat percentage, which if lower will increase your BMR. Severe dieting or starvation, fasting or weight-loss diets can reduce your BMR.

Fever, prolonged exposure to heat, exposure to cold climate, hyperthyroidism in which the thyroid gland produces more thyroxine hormone-all can increase your BMR. On the other hand, too little thyroxine as in hypothyroidism, reduces BMR. What is important is physical exercise, which not only helps burn calories but also helps raise your BMR by building lean tissue. Thus you burn calories even while sleeping.

‘The Dumbbells’—Do it at Home

The dumbbells or the weights that you use at home to work out or at a gym, have a story to tell. The dumbbell was at first an apparatus for swinging a church bell. Since it was only for ringing the bell, but not the bell itself, it was noiseless or ‘dumb’. In those days shaking dumbbell to ring the church bell was considered a difficult physical exercise. Practice was required to develop the strength and skill to handle the dumbbell to ring the heavy church bell. So they devised bars fashioned from metal or wood with a rounded end. These were created in pairs and swung during the day as practice to perform this duty. It was after this that dumbbells came into use for general calisthenic exercises. Weights mounted on each end of a steel bar later also came to be known as barbells.

dumbells workout

Short Cuts to Exercising

There are some simple exercises that can be done at home basically without the use of any exercising apparatus. They are thus short cuts to lengthy exercises, namely

  • Squats—Crouch with knees bent at 90 degrees and return to erect posture. Repeat this for about 30-60 seconds
  • Skipping—Keep feet together and jump with a skipping rope for about one minute. You can do this even without a rope.
  • Lunges—With one foot forward and the other back, bend knees and lower the body into lunging position. Switch legs and repeat for one minute.
  • Walk or hog—Start walking at a brisk pace for 2 minutes, speed up and go as fast as possible for the next few minutes. Gradually come to a stop in the last 2 minutes
  • Push-ups—Do them at a fast pace for about one minute.
  • Squat and Kick—Stand with feet together and kick. Go into a low squat, rise and kick with the other leg. Switch legs and repeat the exercise for about 3 minutes.

Sneaking Exercises at Home and Office

Exercise need not really involve any equipment or a special time of the day. Any kind of movement, which increases your heart rate, can extend health benefits. Make physical activity your hobby and you would remain healthy for life. Get rid of those remote controls, which turn you into zombies and couch potatoes.

You can do simple floor exercises at home or anywhere around. These can be simple physical training similar to those that you did as children in school. If you have equipment at home do not let it rust. Ride the stationary cycle while reading newspaper or watching TV or you can walk on the treadmill. However, you do not really need fitness DVDs to exercise or use of expensive equipment. If you are chatting on the phone, get a cordless phone; you can walk while you talk.

If you have no time and inclination to visit a gym or a health club, you can even work out at home easily by walking briskly, jogging, skipping or even running up and down the stairs instead of talking a lift. Climbing stairs exercises your lower body and abdominal muscles. It especially works on the leg and calf muscle—the quadriceps in front of the thing and your buttocks. You can burn up to 150 calories in 15 minutes of climbing.

If the distance is not much, walk your way to the office market or school or college. You can even go for a walk before or an hour after dinner as this will help the metabolism and fortify blood vessels to resist harmful effects of fat intake.

If at home, do your housework at a fast pace. If you have a garden to manage; rake leaves or do gardening. Household activities such as dusting, sweeping floors, washing dishes and clothes, fixing furniture, etc are sure ways to tone up and burn two or three calories in one minute. All these activities give a good workout to your elbow joint, triceps and back muscles and tone up your lower leg and arm muscles too. They keep your joints healthy, remove stiffness and make your body flexible. You can easily lose up to 200-250 calories by performing such routine chores.

Walking, bending, climbing—all can keep your metabolic clock ticking. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Walk around during lunch hour break. Look out for rest room that is farthest from where you sit. Every hour get up from your chair and move around. Walk to errands that are in the vicinity. Go on ‘active’ vacations such as trekking, boating, swimming or hiking.

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