# PAL – Physical Activity Level – how to calculate it? Runner’s Guide

Publish date 30.11.2022

You can read it in 7 minut

If you are running to lose weight, it is important to calculate your caloric requirements. This will help you burn calories and slowly work towards your dream figure. PAL (Physical Activity Level) is one of the main parameters you need to take into consideration in this case.

If you want to take care of your weight and get better and better results not only on the scale but also during workouts, then get acquainted with PAL. What is your caloric zero? What does your activity factor depend on? Find the answers to these and other questions in this article!

## Physical Activity Level PAL – how to get started?

To calculate PAL accurately, you must first calculate BMR – basal metabolic rate. These two parameters are very useful if you want to calculate TDEE – total daily energy expenditure.

Is this your first time seeing such abbreviations? I will explain everything to you in the second. Literally.

BMR is the number of calories your body needs to survive when you do not do anything. TDEE is BMR plus calories consumed during physical activity. This means that it is the total energy you burn during the day.

So, how do you calculate these two figures to get to PAL? How to calculate physical activity level?

### Calculating BMR

Women: (10 x weight [kg]) + (6.25 x height [cm]) – (5 x age [yrs] – 161)

men: (10 x weight [kg]) + (6.25 x height [cm]) – (5 x age [yrs] + 5)

Thanks to this you will calculate how many calories you burn if you lie down all day and do nothing special – you just exist.

### Calculating TDEE

In this case, the matter is much simpler and you have less to calculate:

The formula is: BMR x PAL = TDEE

This will tell you how many calories per day to consume if you want to maintain a good weight. Once calculated, you can also determine your caloric deficit. Subtract about 200-300 kcal from the calculated calories if you want to lose weight through proper nutrition and

physical activity.

### Harris-Benedict formula

When calculating these values, you may encounter the Harris-Benedict formula. Especially if you are going to a nutritionist to arrange a menu for you that will make you maintain your weight or get rid of excess weight. With this formula, the results may vary a bit. Therefore, do not be surprised by that.

• For men: BMR = 66.5 + (13.75 x weight [kg] ) + (5.003 x height [cm] ) – (6.75 x age)
• For women: BMR = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight [kg] ) + (1.850 x height [cm] ) – (4.676 x age)

## PAL – what the activity factor depends on?

PAL counts to determine your physical activity level. Therefore, the higher your physical activity level is the fitter and more physically active you are.

What is taken into account when determining PAL?

• the intensity of physical activity,
• the type of work you do,
• the amount of training activity.

“Ok, I already have the results. How can I check my physical activity?”

Looking for such data on the Internet, you are sure to find many tables that will show you different values. However, I will show you the most commonly accepted values that will help you determine what kind of shape you are in – that is – what your level of physical activity is.

• 1.1 – 1.2 – lack of physical activity (people lying down, sick)
• up to 1.4 – a sedentary lifestyle + light workouts up to 3 times per week
• up to 1.7 – sedentary work + medium-intensive workouts OR physical work without workouts
• up to 2.0 – sedentary work and at least 5 intense workouts per week OR physical work + up to 4 moderate-intensity workouts
• above 2.0 – heavy physical work OR professional sports practice

## Runner’s PAL – what value will be the best?

It all depends on what your approach to physical activity is and how many times a week you go for training.

If you only go for training 3 times a week, then a value of 1.4 will be appropriate. If you are into your workouts and exercise regularly, then your level of physical activity may be 1.5.

A PAL between 1.6-1.7 is the ideal range for people who have a sedentary job but run every day. The case is different if you not only exercise intensively, running several kilometers, but also do physical work, which also counts as physical activity. In this case, you can choose some of the highest values in the PAL table, up to 2.0.

You know yourself – what kind of lifestyle you lead, so it will be easy for you to choose the right range. Want to lose a few pounds? Just multiply the BMR by it, and include a suitable diet. Remember that exercise alone will never be enough if you don’t change your menu. If you eat as you did before running, you probably won’t see much change in weight.

## How to calculate physical activity level – another way

You can use this method if you have a good watch or running band that counts the calories you burn while running. In this case, the inverse of the formula is used:

PAL = TDEE/BMR.

Before you start running, calculate your BMR. Then you can go for a workout and add to your BMR the number of calories you manage to burn while running. Run like this for a whole week. Once you’ve collected all the data, calculate your average daily calorie consumption – TDEE.

Divide your TDEE by your BMR and this is the PAL factor you take in future dietary calculations.

## The biggest disadvantage of PAL – get to know it!

It must be said that it is very difficult to determine and accurately calculate PAL. There are too many data variables that can determine what range of physical activity you are in and how many calories you should consume.

If you decide to translate your physical activity into numbers try to make observations. Are you surprised? Well, it is not enough to just substitute a few numbers into the formula and you will be all set.

Observe first of all your weight – does it stay in the same place, or, however, do you make progress and slowly reach your dream weight? However, this is not the only important thing. Pay attention to your energy level as well. It may be that you can’t run as much as usual, you become tired, and don’t have the energy to continue training. In that case, you should introduce more calories into your diet. The right foods will give you the energy to continue running at the same level as always.

Everything also depends on what your physical activity is like. Not every walk or run is the same. Some people run slowly, others stop their training every few minutes to rest and others run intervals. Everyone calls it running, but the effects of each will be different.

The same goes for physical labor. Laying out goods in a store, working on a construction site, working in a mine. These are all physical jobs, but each of them is completely different – different intensity and severity of work. In each case, calorie burning will be different, even though we put all these jobs in the same category.

Moreover, calorie burning is also related to a person’s current state of health

As you have already noticed, not every physical activity is the same. Therefore, when it comes to the PAL factor, one must take into account the frequency and type of workouts performed. Moreover, you also need to pay attention to the type of work you do.

Therefore, determining the exact number of calories burned is impossible. One day during training you will burn more calories, and the other less. You also never know how intense your day at work will be. Will you work harder today, or maybe it will be a looser day with easy tasks?

## Caloricity of the diet for a runner

If you want to take care of yourself you also need to choose the right calorie content of your diet.

You want to lose weight? Eat about 300 kcal less per day. However, remember not to starve yourself. Your caloric deficit should not be more than 500 kcal.

Do you want to build muscle mass? Or do you want to gain weight? Then eat about 400 kcal more a day.

Maybe you want to neither lose weight nor gain weight? You feel good about your body and don’t want to change anything, but want to be physically active and exercise? Then eat as much as your total metabolism.

## What can you say in conclusion?

Don’t be guided only by your PAL ratio. Observe your energy level during the day and training – do you feel more tired, are you running less than usual? What’s more, observe how your weight changes – does it drop, or does it stay the same? Only after these observations modify your diet to improve the effectiveness of your workouts.

If you can’t handle it on your own, go to a nutritionist for advice. They will surely help you arrange your diet so that you can exercise, eat and see the results of your hard work on your body.

Now you know how to calculate PAL – Physical Activity Level. However, as you can see, you can’t just rely on what you calculate, because it consists of many factors that you often can’t even control. Remember not to starve yourself. Sometimes it’s better to eat more to have the energy to run. Or have you taken on too large a caloric deficit? Watch your body and make the appropriate adjustments to your diet and exercises.

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