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Can Playing Bridge Help You Lose Weight?

A while ago I wrote about the health benefits of playing bridge. Could weight loss be one of them? Can playing bridge really help you lose weight?

We all know that exercise, in conjunction with a healthy, calorie controlled diet can help you lose weight. There are many reasons why not everyone can take part in the usual forms of physical exercise. If your mobility or ability to exercise is compromised are there other things you can do to help with your weight loss regime?
I did a little online research into the number of calories used by the brain for thinking. It makes fascinating reading.
At rest, the human body consumes around 1300 calories a day, of which around 260 – 300 is used by the brain. Several studies confirm this, and Scientific American agree http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/thinking-hard-calories/
Several studies have been done which show that when a person is thinking hard or concentrating the glucose level in the brain decreases faster than when at rest. This is usually taken as an indicator that the brain is using more calories.
PET scans can reveal which areas of the brain are working hardest and using the most glucose. It seems that thinking hard makes the frontal lobe use more glucose and therefore more calories. http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryfaqs/f/caloriethinkfaq.htm
Don’t get the wrong idea, you aren’t going to use as many calories whilst playing bridge as you would if you hit the gym. But bridge makes the brain concentrate and think hard and may raise the rate at which it burns calories from less than half a calorie per minute to 1.5 calories per minute. http://io9.gizmodo.com/5920970/how-many-calories-does-thinking-burn
So two hours of bridge could, potentially burn an extra 50 calories or so – I’m assuming here that you wouldn’t be concentrating hard for all of that time.

Not a huge amount of extra calories, but if you are strictly controlling your calorie intake and cannot take physical exercise, that’s an extra 50 calories that you wouldn’t otherwise have used.
So – can bridge help as part of a calorie controlled diet? I’ll leave you to decide, but it seems it won’t do any harm. So long, of course, as you avoid those tempting cakes and biscuits served by the director at your local bridge club. Stick to sparkling water and your calorie intake will definitely be less than the extra calories that you use.

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