Feel The Burn… and The “After-Burn”

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Have you heard of the term “after-burn”???  After-burn occurs when someone engages in “vigorous” exercise they continue to burn calories even post workout.  For example, a 45 minute vigorous exercise increases metabolic rate for 14 hours.  So your latest cardio workout can keep on giving even after you leave the gym!

This “after-burn” effect is more officially known as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC.  Several studies suggest a strong correlation between the number of calories burned post-exercise and the activity’s intensity ((Exercise After-Burn: Research Update. Vella, C., and Kravitz, L. IDEA Fitness Journal, San Diego, CA. IDEA Fitness Journal 1 (5), 2004.)).  Basically, the longer and more intense the exercise, the more oxygen the body consumes afterward.  This means a higher sustained metabolic rate and thus more calories burned throughout the day.  In one study, participants who cycled vigorously for 45 minutes burned 190 more in the 14 hours after exercise than on days when they didn’t workout at all.

But what actually constitutes “vigorous” or intense exercise?  The number of calories burned both during and after exercise can vary greatly among individuals. Therefore most people, optimal post-exercise calorie burn will occur with exercise performed at 70 to 85 percent of individual max heart rate.  And the longer the duration of exercise, the more potent the effect and the more calories burned during rest.  And of course, all out 60 minutes session is not the friendliest workout several times a week, because it can be hard on your body, but shorter high intensity workouts have also been shown to trigger calorie after-burn.

And it is not just steady-state cardio that gets the metabolism going for hours afterward, high intensity interval training and resistance training has also shown to elicit an even greater post-workout burn.  So no matter the particular training regime, to keep burning calories long after the last mile or rep, it pays off to give your workouts intensity!