The laziness of the short-distance runner

Performing daily chores can use up more calories than winning gold medals

IT IS easy to feel guilty about admiring lean Olympians sweat it out from the comforts of your armchair. The pangs of conscience may not, however, be entirely justified. Looking at metabolic equivalents of task (MET), a measure of the energy cost of physical activities, for a number of Olympic events, we calculated how many calories (kcal) their winners burned on their way to gold in London. Some did indeed put couch potatoes to shame. They include archers, who may not move much but stand upright for a total of three and a half hours, burning over 1,000 kcal as a result, similar to what an average person expends sweeping and vacuuming for roughly the same length of time. Others, though, are not nearly as impressive. Usain Bolt needed to run for a total of just under 30 seconds over three rounds to secure his Olympic title, shedding less than 30 kcal (though admittedly this does not include calories burned either during training or after the race, when athletes’ metabolic rates ramp up). You lose more than that sitting through a 15-minute meeting.

From: The Economist online

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