I don’t know about you, but I’ve always heard that exercise revs up our metabolism, keeping it like a fat-burning furnace for up to 24 hours after a workout. But like all science, opinions sway back and forth, and then back again until you lose track of what the “latest” really is.
Well, I’m sticking to my original version of the story. All I know is that after a workout, my body feels revved up and wide awake. But to say I can then stuff myself with anything I want without putting on some pounds would be a false statement. My metabolism is not that kind.
A while back, when I expressed some frustration at reading new research reporting that our metabolism does not get quite the boost we all thought it got from exercising, I contacted exercise physiologist Mike Seimans, whom I met when I visited Canyon Ranch in Tucson (one of my favorite spas anywhere around!) Mike impressed me with his extensive knowledge of fitness from how to get our bodies to function at their peak to how to stay motivated at the gym.
Mike says that there are many credible research articles that do support the existence of a post-exercise calorie burn and highlight the importance of exercise intensity in the role of elevating metabolism (aha – another reason to push yourself to the next level). In the particular research in question, he points out, the subjects were given an exercise intensity that was unrealistic: “very few people are willing to do this for any substantial period of time,” he said.
So, what to do?
Try interval training – brief periods of exercise (anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes) followed by equal periods of recovery. This type of training allows people to accomplish a workout that exposes the body to these very beneficial–and perhaps metabolism-stimulating–intensities without making exercise a real drag.
And exercising at a higher intensity helps to increase your overall fitness level as well. Mike mentioned some unfit clients who could only burn 4 to 6 calories per minute but then were able to increase this calorie-burning potential to 8 to 12 calories per minute as they became more fit and their muscles were able to withstand a higher workload.