Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption

Author- S. Bledsoe, M.D.

“But I’ve got such a slow metabolism!”  I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve heard a patient complain that God had cursed them with a body that wouldn’t burn calories.  Often, this was merely an excuse as to why they weren’t losing weight.  In fact, the truth was that they weren’t doing what they knew to do- watch what they were eating and increase their activity level.

 

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a predictable way to increase your metabolism?  You could burn more calories throughout the day.  You could burn more calories conducting your daily activities.  You could burn more calories in your sleep.  An impossible dream you say?  Actually, this is a reality.

 

Oxygen consumption is considered the one of the best ways to measure the activity level of a persons metabolism.  If oxygen consumption is high, then the metabolism is high.  If the oxygen metabolism is low, then the metabolism is low.  After a period of exercise, the body keeps its oxygen consumption (metabolic rate) elevated during the recovery phase.  This is known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption or “afterburn” as it is informally referred too.  How to best utilize and tap into this afterburn has been the subject of much research and interest.

 

Researchers at the Ohio University took 7 healthy, athletic men and put them through a total body, high intensity exercise protocol using heavy resistance training.  Oxygen consumption was measured before the exercise and at varying intervals for 48 hours after the workout.  According to the research, these people had oxygen consumption levels elevated over baseline for 38 hours post-exercise.  This has significant implications for you and me.

 

It is absolutely possible for us mimic the exercise protocol from this article.  Resistance training based on large muscle groups and high intensity is the prescription needed.  What are some examples of exercises that fit this description?  In the above article, they used squats, bench press, and power cleans.  You can add kettlebell swings, thrusters, overhead presses, and deadlifts to name a few more.  Put together a plan based on these and other lifts to fully take advantage of the afterburn.

 

Incidentally, an increased metabolism is but one reason to consider resistance training.  Research has uncovered a myriad of benefits associated with resistance training.  All of the benefits of resistance training would be beyond the scope of a single posting.  But visit this site often because this is a topic I will be covering with some frequency.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out a few of the weaker points of this research.  First, with only 7 people, it is tough to make any definitive judgments, but this should stimulate increased interest and more research on the topic.  Second, these were athletic, younger men who were able to push themselves very hard.  The above regiment, and following results, may not be possible for a sedentary middle-aged female.

 

Even though there are limitations with this study, the take-home message is unaltered.  Resistance training boosts your metabolism, benefits your health, and should be incorporated into your exercise regiment.

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