We Use Less Energy Than We Used To

We live in a world of inactivity and increasing obesity. Compared to our parents, we use less energy to do the same tasks, and it is taking its toll on our health.

This table compares the energy we used to complete simple household tasks in the 1950s with the energy we use for the same outcomes these days.

Activity 1950’s 2000’s
Shopping On foot: 2400 cal/week Car/supermarket 276 cal/week
Washing By hand: 1500 cal/week Washing machine 270cal/week
Heating Making coal fire: 1300 cal/week Turning on gas/electric heater:  almost zero cals
Making bed Blankets: 575 cal/week Doona: 300cal/week
Mowing lawn Hand mower: 500 cal/hour Electric/petrol mower: 180 cal/hour
Driving Without power steering: 96 cal/hour With power steering 75 cal/hour

Just looking at these simple household tasks, we are using about 5000 calories less per week these days than we did 50 years ago. That’s about two days’ worth of eating!!

There are many other examples of labour saving devices which reduce our energy output such as: automatic garage doors automatic car windows automatic driveway gates remote control on the TV

What can you do?

Use the stairs instead of the lift Get off the couch to change the TV channel – if you can find the buttons on the TV! Walk to the shops when it’s practical Park a little way away from your destination and walk some of the way Actively engage with your children rather than watch them play whilst you are on your phone Be prepared not to have it all – you can’t have your health and work yourself silly every day leaving no time for activity, be it formal exercise sessions or incidental activity.

Why does it matter?

It doesn’t really matter, unless you want to live a long and healthy life. That’s when all this stuff starts to count.