This exercise burns calories hours after stopping

This exercise burns calories hours after stopping

What if burning calories continued even after ending your workout? Well, that’s exactly the phenomenon called “afterburn effect” or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Physical activity is the primary means of increasing energy expenditure, also known as burning calories. However, reports show energy expenditure may remain elevated for hours post-exercise depending on the nature of the activity.

When you are breathing more heavily during intense exercise, your body is working to bring in more oxygen to fuel your muscles, but less oxygen than the body needs. This creates an oxygen deficit that must be replenished. The increased oxygen consumption after exercise is crucial and necessary to restore the body to its baseline, pre-exercise state and adapt to the physical stress it just experienced. During afterburn effect or EPOC, your body is consuming the excess oxygen after the workout leading to calorie burn.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a prime example of an exercise that creates the afterburn effect. During HIIT workouts, you alternate between short intervals of high-intensity exercise and brief recovery periods. For example, you decide to train on the elliptical for 30 minutes. If you do 15 seconds of sprinting and 45 seconds of slower recovery movement every minute, you create more afterburn effect than if you trained 30 minutes on the elliptical at a constant level of effort.

The bottom line is that all aerobic exercises create the afterburn effect. However, exercise intensity plays a primary role in determining how strong that effect will be.

Ways to achieve EPOC or afterburn:

  • Incorporate HIIT exercises that you find online, through fitness apps or by attending a class at your nearby gym.
  • Try resistance training that incorporates strength training and body-weight exercises that challenge big muscle groups.
  • Incorporate cardio with strength training. For instance, after your lower body strength training, go for a swim.

The flexible nature of a HIIT workout allows for training sessions to be customized to your abilities and preferences.

Katarzyna Charytoniuk is a registered nurse at Advocate Health Care.

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Katarzyna Charytoniuk