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MFP Activity Level setting

chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
I think this setting is both very important to make the MFP tools work well, and it is poorly explained. I have been motivated to put it at a higher level than what I now believe is correct. It is from wanting to inflate my activities, and also the setting not being very well described.

Here's what I mean. I've been running consistently for a couple of months. I have a 4 day/week training plan. One night I go to a Salsa dance class, and one morning I take a swim in the ocean ~750 yards. So six days a week I'm doing some activity. Sort of a humble-brag here, but that's the streak I'm currently on, and it's working, I'm making consistent progress toward my goal weight

Additional, I'm getting up there (56 y/o) and my job is hardcore 40 hrs/week at a desk. Sometimes I walk around or lead a group or go places, usually sitting though.

So Mr. Runner 6 day a week guy??? I clicked "lightly active" and I could even see selecting "Sedentary."

I think MFP separates things into 'normal daily stuff' and 'exercising.' This tool, and eating back calories, and not getting credit for walking 10k steps, all seem to relate to the 'normal daily stuff' and not so much the extra 'activities' and exercise we do.

For MFP if you are a bank teller during the day, and an ultra marathoner after work and on weekends....you might be a "Sedentary" My insides cry out that this is wrong, and I want to label myself higher, and I'm running and being active....yes. But for MFP this is probably how I can best use the tools.


How would you describe your normal daily activities?
  • Sedentary: Spend most of the day sitting (e.g. bank teller, desk job)
  • Lightly Active: Spend a good part of the day on your feet (e.g. teacher, salesperson)
  • Active: Spend a good part of the day doing some physical activity (e.g. food server, postal carrier)
  • Very Active: Spend most of the day doing heavy physical activity (e.g. bike messenger, carpenter)

Replies

  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 8,984Member Member Posts: 8,984Member Member
    I have myself as sedentary, because I have a desk job. I ride about 100 miles a week in season, and do other stuff out of season. It bothers me to sit still. But I sit in a chair 8 hours a day, and that's what they're really asking.

    This works too because I'm not exercising on a schedule, every now and then I have a light day, or a long one. It's not predictable.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,071Member Member Posts: 15,071Member Member
    So use a TDEE calculator if you want a combined exercise and daily activity BMR multiplier.
    But the downside (for me) is that you then get a same every day calorie goal. For me that simply feels boring and restrictive even with a generous calorie allowance.

    I prefer to completely separate activty and exercise (the way MFP works) because my exercise is so variable and a proportion of it needs specific fuelling on the day or during my exercise.

    Do agree that the categories are badly described - there should be a huge banner explaining that exercise is not part of the setting and then a lot of the mistakes, queries and questions from newbies around activty settings and eating back exercise calories would diminish.

    Personally although I had a sedentary desk job the amount of movement I got in during my commute, during my working hours, evenings and weekends easily bumped me up to lightly active - that part of the setting also isn't well described in the set up, your job is a big influence but not the only factor.
  • chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
    I appreciate the feedback. I think the conclusion is the MFP tools here are somewhat sophisticated and can work. However it is important to somehow fully understand the ground rules, etc. and have the settings correct, and have a feel for the whole MFP process, if a person wants to work with their data and more finely hone their weight loss journey.
  • cmriversidecmriverside Posts: 28,289Member Member Posts: 28,289Member Member
    Well, yeah. Knowing how the tool works is important.

    From Help at the top of every page: How does MyFitnessPal calculate my initial goals?

  • chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
    Knowing how the tool works is important.

    It isn't always obvious.


    edited August 14
  • chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
  • Ostrich218Ostrich218 Posts: 5Member Member Posts: 5Member Member
    In conjunction with a pedometer to track general movements I found the following useful

    Sedentary adults: <5,000 steps.
    Low Activity: 5,000-7,499 steps.
    Somewhat active: 7,500-9,999 steps.
    Active: >10,000 steps.
    Highly Active: >12,500 steps.


  • chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
    Ostrich218 wrote: »
    In conjunction with a pedometer to track general movements
    Again, though on days I run it is 12500+ and days I don't it is 5000-, So I am low activity/sedentary person who runs.

  • cmriversidecmriverside Posts: 28,289Member Member Posts: 28,289Member Member
    Ostrich218 wrote: »
    In conjunction with a pedometer to track general movements
    Again, though on days I run it is 12500+ and days I don't it is 5000-, So I am low activity/sedentary person who runs.

    A Fitbit or some tracking device will transfer your actual activity.

    If you aren't using one, then your runs would be separate from your daily Activity level, and you would need to add that exercise to the Exercise tab and eat more.

    Activity level means your regular routine...work, chores, walking to the bus stop.


    If you're just using MFP without a tracker, then use the Lightly Active setting, add back in purposeful exercise on those days.

    edited August 14
  • Ostrich218Ostrich218 Posts: 5Member Member Posts: 5Member Member
    Ostrich218 wrote: »
    In conjunction with a pedometer to track general movements
    Again, though on days I run it is 12500+ and days I don't it is 5000-, So I am low activity/sedentary person who runs.



    That’s interesting, I have a sedentary job so am set to sedentary. On days when I don’t workout I try to take a minimum of 10k steps, ideally 12.5k plus

    At least that’s the plan ;)
  • LivingtheLeanDreamLivingtheLeanDream Posts: 11,915Member Member Posts: 11,915Member Member
    Ostrich218 wrote: »
    In conjunction with a pedometer to track general movements I found the following useful

    Sedentary adults: <5,000 steps.
    Low Activity: 5,000-7,499 steps.
    Somewhat active: 7,500-9,999 steps.
    Active: >10,000 steps.
    Highly Active: >12,500 steps.


    ^^ this is the guideline I go by.
    Despite having a desk job I average 10k steps, I have mine set to lightly active. Any steps I take over 6 or 7k MFP gives me extra calories for. Its all relative, if I was set to sedentary it would just mean I get more exercise calories or I could set mine to active and then it wouldn't add anything. The calorie burn would be the same for me at the end of the day, some people like to see lots being added for activity, others don't care.
  • chris_in_calchris_in_cal Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
    I do have a garmin. It tracks all daily steps, and it can also track specific activities, like a run.
    At the end of the day garmin sends MFP a "Steps" taken amount. that "steps" is all steps both regular walking around and also any running that I do added together. So:

    d1 - 5000k steps
    d2- 5000k steps
    d3 - 12500k steps (5K steps + 7.5k run)
    d4 - 5000k steps
    etc.

    Garmin also sends of the run "activity" data, which is Garmin's time, calorie burned estimate, distance. MFP takes this 'activity' data and tries to adjust my daily calorie amounts.

    If you aren't using one, then your runs would be separate from your daily Activity level, and you would need to add that exercise to the Exercise tab and eat more.

    Activity level means your regular routine...work, chores, walking to the bus stop.


    So people who try to *get their 10k steps in* are not really changing their MFP calorie count, MFP puts that under 'regular routine'
  • Duck_PuddleDuck_Puddle Posts: 2,485Member Member Posts: 2,485Member Member
    I am also one of those active people who is sedentary. I average 12k steps a day-8K of which come from my runs.

    So for mfp (with or without an activity tracker), I am sedentary. Because my mfp setting is based on my 4K steps a day and I log my runs separately.

    In the rest of the world (determining my actual level of activity for overall health, using a TDEE calculator, etc.) I am very active.

    People who are getting 10k steps a day (not including exercise) and then log exercise on top of that-should not be setting themselves as sedentary on mfp.

    The activity level setting on mfp is your level of activity NOT including any exercise. This may or may not be the same as your actual overall level of activity.

    FWIW-I’ve been set at sedentary since day one in 2011. I’ve logged activity manually and via activity tracker over the years. The mfp model works fine as long as your mfp activity level setting includes only your non-exercise activity (or if you have a tracker-just set as sedentary and let the tracker handle everything-which is by far the easiest).
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 11,577Member Member Posts: 11,577Member Member
    I'm not clear whether the problem is that you feel like you're getting wrong results, or if it's just that the terminology seems illogical or out of sync with your sense of self?

    To me, using a tool like this is analogous to learning to speak French. If the French teacher says we simply don't pronounce a bunch of letters at the end of a word (unless there's a vowel at the start of the next word, sometimes), then that's what we do, no matter how silly it might seem based on rules from my English-speaking background.

    Same with MFP. If MFP says to base my activity level setting on my work and daily life (not intentional exercise), and my retired li'l ol' lady daily life makes me sedentary (usually < 5,000 steps), then that's what I'd do (even though I'd be using "Very Active" on a TDEE calculator like Sailrabbit).

    But that's just to start, with no other factors in the picture.

    People with a synched activity tracker may prefer to set at their TDEE-like activity level (to get smaller adjustments, theoretically), or at sedentary regardless of their actual activity level (to get the positive adjustment calories most of the time as a big bonus, and rarely get any negative calorie adjustments). That's about preference, and using the tool in a way that makes one happy, not about "following the rules" for the tool . . . but it's fine.

    Even without a tracker, there can be reasons to set activity level in a way that seems discordant with reality. For example, I'm truly sedentary most of the time in MFP terms (average <5,000 steps), other than intentional exercise which I log separately (and eat back all the calories from). But after a couple of months of experience, I learned that I needed to set at "Active" to get MFP to give me even remotely accurate calorie estimates, because (apparently) my body is just a weird outlier. Again, that's just using the tool in a way that's effective for me, not about "following the rules" in the tool (which would be a dumb strategy, in my case).

    I have a Garmin, but I don't sync it to MFP: Its estimates are about as far off as MFP's are. Like I said, weird outlier body. (Doctors checked me out, say I'm fine, so I'm not worried.)
  • lgfrielgfrie Posts: 226Member, Premium Member Posts: 226Member, Premium Member
    I started with MFP's sedentary setting, but discovered through scale observation and my CICO data that my burn rate was ~ 150 cals a day higher - but not quite to the level of "lightly active". So I just set my own calorie goal that mapped to what my body was telling me. MFP's estimates are a good starting point but they're just estimates. "Sedentary" will give you the lowest daily calorie quota, which is a good place to start for people who are basically sedentary. The increasing levels will add more calories in, on the assumption that your daily exertions will burn them off, and if that's true, great, but if not, weight loss is gonna be slower.
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