Too many people think that a normal 30 minute walk a day is enough to raise metabolism, I even see personal trainers not giving enough push to their clients during their workouts. Here’s a review of a research from the University of South Australia about exercise intensity and metabolism.
Many people believe that exercise controls weight by increasing your metabolism so you burn extra calories all day long. A review of the world’s literature from the University of South Australia in Adelaide shows that you have to be in very good shape to exercise vigorously enough to increase your metabolism (Journal of Sports Science, December 2006). This means that most exercisers are not able to exercise hard enough to burn extra calories for a significant time after they finish exercising, so increased post-exercise metabolism does not cause most exercisers to lose weight.
Researchers monitor changes in metabolism by measuring how much oxygen your body uses over a period of time. The maximum amount of oxygen that you can use during exercise in a given time is called VO2max. To increase the amount of oxygen that your body uses after exercising, you must exercise at an intensity of at least 50 percent of your VO2max, which is too much for casual exercisers. You have to exercise very vigorously to increase your oxygen consumption and body temperature for more than a few minutes.
This study shows that if a person wants to increase his metabolism for from 3 to 24 hours, he must exercise for more than 50 minutes at 70 percent of his VO2max, or more than 6 minutes at 100 percent of his VO2max. You need to be very fit to be able to exercise at these levels. For most people, weight control depends on more on how long you exercise, and far less on the extra calories that you burn after you finish exercising.
Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. www.DrMirkin.com
It is important to remember – we want to exercise to burn the calories while doing the activity, and also many hours after that. You’ll need to work hard enough. If you’re a beginner, start slow, and progressively increase your intensity at every week. Remember to take a day of rest in between so that your body can recover. If you’re at the advanced level, always push for personal bests (automatically increase the intensity by increasing progression). At any level, remember not to progress too fast too hard.
Here’s an example of a staircase workout (please change it accordingly)
- Week 1 –
- Monday – 2 flights of stairs x 2 sets (have rest in between)
- Wednesday – 2 flights of stairs x 3 sets (have rest in between)
- Friday – 2 flights of stairs x 4 sets (have rest in between)
- Week 2
- Monday – 3 flights of stairs x 2 sets (have rest in between)
- Wednesday – 3 flights of stairs x 3 sets (have rest in between)
- Friday – 3 flights of stairs x 4 sets (have rest in between)
- Week 3 –
- Monday – 4 flights of stairs x 2 sets (have rest in between)
- Wednesday – 4 flights of stairs x 3 sets (have rest in between)
- Friday – 4 flights of stairs x 4 sets (have rest in between)
Different people have different abilities in the adaptation to exercise, so if you think you can push on a little more, go ahead (but not too hard). If you think the progression is too fast, slow it down. Always use the Rate of perceived exertion as a gauge, and work at 5 to 7 if you’re starting out, if you’re in the advanced stage, workout at 8 to 9 out of 10.
VO2max maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.
If you’re interested to calculate your VO2max, there is an easy way to do so by doing a beep or Pacer test , and it’ll only take about 15 minutes. You can find out more about it here.
Hence, remember to exercise more than 50 minutes at 70% of your VO2 max (or roughly a rate of perceived exertion of 7 to 9 out of 10). As you need to be quite fit to workout at this intensity, please progressively increase your fitness level before attempting such moderate to high intensities.
A great way to ensure that you’re doing a good workout is by doing circuit or bootcamp type of training – the variations in the exercises will help increase your workout intensities accordingly.
Written by Sharm