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Does Exercise Affect Resting Metabolism? (Part Two)

Can you boost your metabolism with weight lifting?


Updated September 14, 2004

Weight Lifting Exercise: A number of recent studies suggest that vigorous weight lifting exercise may elevate calorie burning above usual resting values for several hours after exercise. However, the average person at the gym who rests for several minutes between sets of exercise will likely not experience a prolonged elevation of postexercise energy expenditure.

Does Exercise Training Increase My RMR?

Endurance Exercise: A number of studies have found endurance-trained athletes to exhibit higher RMR than non-athletes. It appears likely that the combination of high exercise energy expenditure and high energy intake in these athletes can temporarily, but not permanently, elevate their RMR when measured the next morning after exercise. However, there is little evidence that the amount of physical activity performed by recreational exercisers for the purpose of weight control and health promotion will produce any increases in RMR, with the possible exception of such exercise in older individuals. It is clear that for both athletes and non-athletes, young and old, the major impact of exercise on total daily energy expenditure occurs during the activity itself, and not from increases in RMR.

Weight Lifting Exercise: Some fitness enthusiasts have promoted the idea that because regular weight lifting can increase skeletal muscle mass, such exercise will dramatically increase RMR. However, it is estimated that each pound of muscle burns about five-10 calories per day while at rest, so you would have to bulk up quite a bit to increase your RMR. Most people who lift weights for health rather than for body building will not increase their muscle mass enough to have a major effect on RMR.

Regular exercise has many benefits and plays an important role in increasing our daily energy expenditure. However, despite what we may read in many popular magazines, the increase in energy expenditure from exercise occurs primarily while we are exercising, rather than due to any sizeable exercise- induced elevations in our resting energy expenditure.

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Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine, ACSM Fit Society® Page, Summer 2004, p. 4-5.

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