The after-burn effect of intense exercise

Good things happen to you after your exercise. You already know that, but did you know that your metabolism gets a boost thanks to EPOC? That stands for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” A mouthful, right?

EPOC is the scientific term for the after-burn effect of prolonged intense exercise. When you work out for a long period of time, the muscles begin to burn, and you feel out of breath. Why? The muscles fill up with lactic acid (the burning feeling), and the body’s oxygen stores become depleted.

To replenish the oxygen that is used during exercise the body must work very hard. This process burns calories long after the workout has ended. High-intensity training sessions, like cross fit or boot camp classes, force the body to work harder to build its oxygen stores back up. This can take as much as 16 to 24 hours post workout.

What is the result, and what does it mean? The lactate you built up during intense exercise is used in the resynthesis of muscle glycogen. Oxygen works with protein for the repair of muscle tissue damaged during a hard workout.

Steady-state endurance exercise sessions may burn the same calories, but working at a harder intensity requires more time to replenish the oxygen stores. EPOC is influenced by the intensity not the duration of the exercise. Strength training, running sprints and speed work all work the body for short intervals, leading to the after burn that will build your muscles back up and kick your metabolism into high gear—which can even result in weight loss.

If you have any fitness or nutrition questions you can find Ginger each Tuesday teaching “Fitness at Any Age” from 9:15 a.m. -10:00 a.m. at the Charlotte Senior Center. She can also be contacted via her website.