SOURCE: Business School of Happiness

June 20, 2011 06:00 ET

In Search of the Elusive Exercise Afterburn

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 20, 2011) - Is it true that if you exercise, your body continues to burn extra calories long afterward? This is often claimed as fact, but what does scientific research reveal?

According to Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, co-authors of the new book "TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust" (BSH, 2011), the court of opinion is divided. "Equal numbers of studies support and counter the case," say the Griesels. "Although all exercisers hope it is true, and some even swear by it."

A study of 10 men ages 22 to 33, led by Amy Knab of Appalachian State University and reported in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, shows that we do keep burning extra calories long after exercise is complete. They found that after intense exercise performed for 45 minutes at about 70% of the participants' "VO2 max" (very strenuous and high-intensity), that during the following 14 hours, there was an "afterburn" effect of about 190 calories.

Yet on the flip side, in another study, where the subjects exercised at a moderate pace of 50% of their VO2 max, no extra calories were reported to have burned post-exercise. It is not clear why there is a difference. The Griesels believe that post-exercise energy is metabolized differently, but only intense exercise will trigger this response.

Where does that leave most of us? "Many people who need to lose fat are unable to perform at this level, and most people have neither the time nor inclination to do it. After all, the extra 'burn' amounted to only 190 calories -- significant, yes -- but it would be much easier to just cut those calories from your daily intake," say the Griesels.

Their recommendations? Incorporate plenty of moderate activity like walking for maximum fat burning. Throw in a few short wind sprints (30-60 seconds) a few times a week during your walk. This is a program most people can do and enjoy. It's possible that even those short sprints might serve to kick in the mythical afterburner.

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Business School of Happiness (BSH) is the publisher of "TurboCharged."

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