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No pain, no gain: Perceptions of calorie expenditures of exercise and daily activities

Abstract

Reduction in physical activity is considered a major contributor to weight problems. Increasingly, people are expending less energy in household chores but joining fitness clubs. Do people perceive ordinary daily activities to expend less energy than exercise activities using similar amounts of calories? In the present study college students were asked to evaluate the calorie expenditure of 30 physical activities (i.e., exercises and household tasks). The household tasks were matched (in terms of caloric expenditure) to at least one exercise activity. When participants rated both exercise and daily activities, it appears that they focused on rate of caloric expenditure rather than type of activity (i.e., household task or exercise). In Study 2, college students evaluated the energy expenditure of light/leisure, moderate, and intense exercise. This emphasis concerning the benefit of intense physical activity was observed once again. College students appear to have assimilated the belief that intense physical activity expends more energy than longer sessions of lower intensity physical activity using similar amounts of calories. Perhaps one reason why people are not physically active is that they believe physical activities must be intense to be of benefit. At the same time they are automatizing household chores and, thus, become less active overall.

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Correspondence to Carole S. Slotterback.

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Slotterback, C.S., Leeman, H. & Oakes, M.E. No pain, no gain: Perceptions of calorie expenditures of exercise and daily activities. Curr Psychol 25, 28–41 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-006-1014-4

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Keywords

  • Physical Activity
  • Moderate Effort
  • Current Psychology
  • Intense Exercise
  • Household Chore