Does Exercise Raise Your Metabolic Rate for Several Hours After the Workout?

When you exercise, you burn more calories because your working muscles require more fuel. After you finish your workout, your body begins a process of recovery. The more intensely that you work out, the longer your body takes to recover.

Your metabolism stays elevated for hours after vigorous aerobic exercise. Credit: Hello Lovely/DigitalVision/GettyImages

During the repair process, your body continues to burn additional calories. Your metabolism after exercise can stay elevated for as long as 15 minutes to 48 hours according to Len Kravitz writing for the University of New Mexico. Consult with you health-care provider before beginning an exercise program.

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Your metabolism can stay elevated and you can burn calories hours after a workout is over. Performing vigorous aerobic exercise and lifting heavy weights create the afterburn effect you're looking for.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories that your body burns when you are completely at rest. Many factors influence your resting metabolic rate. For example, as you age, your resting metabolism decreases.

Men, because of they generally have more muscle mass, have higher basal metabolic rates than women of the same weight. Generally, larger individuals have a higher rate than smaller individuals. The additional calories that you burn after a vigorous workout are higher than what you normally burn at rest.

Read more: The Metabolism Whisperer Shares Secrets for Burning More Calories

Metabolism After Exercise

Aerobic exercise, particularly vigorous aerobic exercise, boosts your calorie burn rate for hours after you finish your workout. Vigorous aerobic exercise elevates your heart rate to approximately 80 percent sub-maximal, for at least 20 minutes.

A study published in 2011 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise examined young male subjects who exercised vigorously on exercise bikes for 45 minutes. After completing their workouts, their metabolisms increased for an average of 14 hours, and they burned an average of 190 additional calories above their resting metabolic levels.

Weight Training and Your Metabolism

A weight-lifting regimen has both short-term and long-term effects on your metabolism. The effects are greatest when you lift heavy, free weights. After you finish a strenuous workout, your body begins to restore glycogen and other enzymes, such as adenosine triphosphate, within your muscles.

Also, your body begins to repair damaged muscle tissue. Because your workout has depleted the energy-producing components from your muscles, your body must burn more energy from the food you eat. As you create more active muscle tissue from lifting weights, you also increase your resting metabolic rate.

ACE Fitness says to concentrate on the eccentric portion of lifting weights. That means the lowering of the dumbbell or barbell, rather than the lifting, or concentric. When your muscles are damaged from a session (that's a good thing) you increase your metabolism; and the easiest way to do that is to lower the weight slowly.

Read more: Why Building More Muscle Helps Your Body Burn Calories Better

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training involves alternating between exercising at approximately 80 to 85 percent of your maximal heart rate for up to one minute and resting for up to one minute. High-intensity interval training can be adapted to many forms of exercise, including cycling and running.

High-intensity intervals are an efficient method of training and a superb metabolic afterburn workout. Eight to 12 minutes of high-intensity interval training can produce dramatic physiological benefits. Those benefits include increasing your aerobic capacity and metabolizing fat according to ACE Fitness.

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