Metabolism is the process by which your body uses fuel provided by foods you eat to produce energy at the cellular level. Of all the things you could do to ensure a healthy, robust metabolism – nothing is more effective than regular physical activity. The reason is simple – exercise can enhance metabolism through four separate ways.
- Exercise, especially resistance exercise, like weight lifting, yoga, and Pilates, increases lean body mass (muscle). The amount of muscle tissue you have in your body is the primary determinant of your basal metabolic rate or BMR. BMR accounts for about 65% of the total calories your body burns daily. Muscles tissue is highly active and burns fat very effectively. For perspective, one pound of muscle burns 14 calories a day, while one pound of fat burns just 3 calories. The more you exercise, the more muscle tissue you can maintain or even build. The value of resistance exercise to enhance metabolism becomes even more important as we age. Unfortunately, loss of muscle tissue is a predictable part of the aging process, but taxing those muscles, especially resistance exercise, can mitigate this loss.
- The act of exercising leads to a significant, transient increase in metabolic rate. This is called “afterburn.” Aerobic exercise, especially vigorous activity, provides the most afterburn. High-intensity interval (HIT) exercise, which entails very brief (15 seconds to 1 minute) of very intense (85-100% max heart rate) aerobic activity alternating with 3-4 minutes of very light activity is a very time-efficient way to exploit afterburn. As an added bonus, HIT exercise shifts fuel burning to fat.
- Exercise increases the numbers of and the activity of our cell’s fuel and fat-burning machinery known as mitochondria. The more mitochondria you have and the better they operate, the more fat you can burn and the more energy you will have. Although all forms of exercise can increase mitochondria, HIT is particularly potent.
- Exercise, especially aerobic activity, improves the activity and action of the all-powerful, mother hormone of metabolism, insulin. The better your insulin works, the more robust your metabolism
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