You may have read my earlier post, where I expressed some frustration at reading new research reporting that our metabolism does not get quite the boost we all thought it got from exercising. We've always heard that metabolism stays at an active fat-burning stage for up to 24 hours after working out, while now researchers are saying that in the post-exercise period, our body is not the furnace we thought it was.
Curious, I contacted Mike Seimans, who I met while at Canyon Ranch Tucson. Mike, the director of exercise physiology and aquatic therapy, impressed me with his extensive knowledge of fitness from how to get our bodies to function at their peak to how to stay motivated at the gym. He listened to my concerns, tested my endurance, and gave me a personalized program of a fabulous workout that would fit best with my schedule and my body. Here's his take on the exercise-and-metabolism-busting research:
Mike says that there are many credible research articles that do support the existence of a post-exercise calorie burn and highlight the importance of exercise intensity in the role of elevating metabolism (aha - another reason to push yourself to the next level). In the particular research in question, he points out, the subjects were given an exercise intensity that was unrealistic: "very few people are willing to do this for any substantial period of time," Mike says.
So, what to do? In Mike's expert opinion, try interval training - brief periods of exercise (anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes) followed by equal periods of recovery. "This type of training allows people to accomplish a workout that exposes the body to these very beneficial--and perhaps metabolism-stimulating--intensities without making exercise a real drag," he says. And, exercising at a higher intensity helps to increase your overall fitness level as well. Mike mentioned some unfit clients who could only burn 4 to 6 calories per minute but then were able to increase this calorie-burning potential to 8 to 12 calories per minute as they became more fit and their muscles were able to withstand a higher workload.