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Most Asked Exercise Questions


How does exercising affect your metabolic rate?


Our Expert Says ...

Our body's burn calories all the time for basic processes like breathing and circulation processes (termed our 'basal metabolic rate' or BMR). However, when we then exercise this extra exertion causes a significant increase in our metabolism which means more calories burned! Even after exercise the increase in our metabolism takes time to return to our resting level so we are able to burn calories at a higher rate for many hours after we have stopped exercising.

In addition to immediate metabolism benefits, exercise also builds lean muscle tissue and muscle tissue burns calories just to exist on our body whereas fat doesn't burn any!

This medium to long-term benefit of having increased lean muscle tissue also directly promotes a higher metabolic rate and this makes it easier to lose weight. This is why exercise has such a powerful impact on weight loss when someone has hit a dieting plateau and this impact can be sustained by constantly varying and progressing workouts consisting of resistance exercise and aerobic exercise.

Your metabolism is not a fixed entity and can slow down as well as speed up. As we age, our metabolism naturally slows by around 2% every decade, but this can helped by maintaining fitness levels and muscle mass as far as possible.

Excess dieting has a detrimental effect on your basic metabolic rate because when you dramatically cut down on the amount of food you consume, your body goes into a conservation mode and tries to protect its fat stores, becoming extremely efficient at using calories from muscle tissue. In turn, this process depletes your lean muscle mass, therefore lowering your basic metabolic rate making it harder than ever to shift those extra pounds.

This explains why crash dieting never works as a long-term solution to weight loss; your metabolism slows down and simply hangs on to all the calories you consume once you start eating normally again.

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