How exercise affects metabolic rate
For decades, researchers have been grappling to find the exact co-relation of exercise with metabolic rate or the energy expenditure. While there is a lot of evidence that physical exercise does enhance basal metabolic rate, it has also been seen that exercises appear to lower the metabolic rate.
Before we analyze the various (sometimes conflicting) results which researchers have found on the co-relation between exercise and metabolic rate, we must understand that in any 24-hour period, we burn a certain amount of calories, known as Total Daily Energy Expenditure, also called TDEE.
This total consists of different types of energy expenditure – for instance, the expenditure of energy while we are resting (called RMR) accounts for nearly 60 to 75% of the TDEE! Then there is nearly 10% energy expenditure while we are eating and digesting. Other normal daily activities, including a formal physical exercise or any ‘casual’ movement, account for 15 to 30% of daily energy spent. Thus, exercise increases the calories needed, which is to be used for the extra activity at that particular time.
Overall researchers have found that there is an acute effect of exercise on energy spent. Most studies show an increase of metabolic rate within 24 hours of the exercise session. For instance, research shows that aerobic exercises enhance metabolic rate immediately after the exercise period.
There may be a gender difference in the rate of change of metabolic rate and exercise. Incidentally, majority of the research has been done with men as subjects. The current data available does not throw much difference in RMR between exercising and non-exercising women. It seems women burn less calories at rest and in response to exercise.
There is currently huge amount of research data on the subject and the differences between the experimental procedures make it difficult to draw any definite conclusion. But there are some definite indications between the relationship of exercise and metabolic rate. These are given below:
Physical exercises may substantially increase the metabolic rate between 6 and 36 hours of the exercise session.
There could be a threshold effect valid both for intensity and duration, depending on the type of exercise done.
Endurance exercises, if done regularly, boost normal activity levels during the rest of the day.
Gender plays a role in the effect of exercise on metabolic rate; women tend to get less affected by exercise when it comes to altering their metabolic rates.
Resistance exercises have been found to boost metabolic rate, especially for aging people whose metabolic rate is slowing.
Doing resistance exercises, like weight training, helps in increasing muscle mass. Research shows that this type of exercise is able to boost overall calorie burning. Since muscle tissues burn easier than fatty tissues, increasing your muscle to fat ratio would give a higher resting metabolic rate.
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