Did you know that when you’re cooling down after a workout that your body continues to burn calories? Depending on workout intensity and your current fitness level, your body may burn additional calories for more than 24 hours after you finish exercising. In this article we will know about Excess Post Oxygen Consumption.
But what causes this continual calorie burn after a workout? A phenomenon called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.
What is Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)?
EPOC occurs during your body’s cooling down period after a workout. After engaging in a session of heightened physical activity, your body needs to restore itself back to a resting state called homeostasis. In other words, your body needs to return to its pre-workout state.
To achieve homeostasis, the body increases its oxygen consumption to help regulate your breathing and heart rate, rebuild muscle tissue, rebalance hormones, and engage in cell regeneration.
SInce EPOC requires additional oxygen consumption, your metabolism needs to burn more calories to maintain the energy needed to consume this oxygen.
How Long Does EPOC Last?
Health and fitness experts remain conflicted as to how long EPOC lasts. Some experts believe that the effects of EPOC can last for 38 hours or more.
Does EPOC Help with Weight Loss?
The number of calories burned remains one of the biggest unknowns surrounding EPOC. In most cases, you may only burn up to 200 calories during EPOC.
And while this may not seem like a significant number, if you exercise regularly, your body should continue to burn around this number of calories after each workout on a consistent basis. You can consider the extra calories burned as a bonus to working out regularly.
How Does Exercise Influence EPOC?
By exercising regularly, you force your body to engage in EPOC more often. Exercising has many health benefits that include weight loss, muscle growth, a healthy heart, and a better mood (thanks to endorphin releases).
What Types of Exercise Impact EPOC?
Several workout methods can help you burn additional calories during EPOC. Make sure that when you engage in one of the following high-intensity workouts that you workout long enough to increase your oxygen intake:
- HIIT – High-intensity interval training leads to an increased heart rate and respiratory rate in a short amount of time. You can easily incorporate HITT into your regular weight training or cardio routine.Choose an exercise like running in place or jumping rope. Run in place or jump rope for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise two or three times and rest in between intervals.Create a HIIT exercise routine by combining your favorite cardio exercises. You can also create a HITT routine using your favorite weight training exercises.
- AMRAP – As Many Reps As Possible requires you to complete as many repetitions of weight training, cardio or resistance training exercises in a specific amount of time. You will need a stopwatch or timer to monitor your time.Create an AMRAP circuit by combining several of your favorite weight training or cardio exercises.
- Interval Training – You can influence EPOC through interval training, which requires you to engage in a series of high-impact cardio exercises, alternating between short and long bursts.For example, if you enjoy running, sprint for 30 seconds, then walk for one minute, then sprint again for 30 seconds. If you prefer to walk, you can alternate between a slow and fast pace.
Should I Stick to One Type of Exercise?
You should participate in a variety of workout routines to stay mentally engaged, to build muscle, and to maintain a healthy weight.
Mixing it up provides a challenge for the body. If you can continually tire your body out during a workout, you will burn calories and continue to burn them during EPOC.
Other types of exercises that help burn calories during EPOC include swimming, cycling, and jump training.
Do I Need to Go to the Gym?
If you have workout equipment at home such as a weight machine, free weights, stair climber, treadmill, rowing machine, or elliptical machine, you don’t have to go to the gym to complete a workout that helps your body burn more calories during EPOC.
If you have a place to walk, sprint, or run, you can create an exercise routine that will help you increase your oxygen consumption.
When is the Best Time to Exercise?
The best time to exercise depends on your schedule. Morning and afternoon workouts provide the best opportunities for calorie burn during EPOC. However, evening workouts allow you to burn calories, but maybe not as many when your body engages in recovery.
Choose a workout time that fits your lifestyle. Try to workout at the same time during each session to create a routine that you will stick with long-term.
What if I Can’t Participate in High-Intensity Exercises?
Studies have shown that the number of calories you burn during EPOC may not directly correlate with a particular workout type.
If you have an injury or other health issue that prevents you from participating in high-intensity workouts, don’t worry. Even low-impact exercise allows your body to burn calories if you can increase the intensity and can workout for a longer period of time.
Increase the intensity of a low-impact workout by taking a brisk walk outside. You can also change the speed or incline on your treadmill if walking indoors.
Unless you can regularly participate in high-intensity workouts, you probably won’t reap the benefits of EPOC in the same way a person who can perform HIIT or AMRAP exercises will. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise.
How Often Should I Exercise?
Try to complete three 30-minute high-intensity workout routines each week. Give yourself a day or two to rest so your body can complete the necessary repairs. Resting also helps prevent injury.
In between high-intensity workouts, try some stretching or restorative yoga to help keep joints and muscles healthy. While these exercises probably won’t lead to increased respiratory or heart rates, your body will appreciate the downtime.
Working out regularly and eating a healthy diet remains the best way to lose weight and keep it off.
Instead of focusing on the benefits of added calorie burn during EPOC, you should instead focus on getting a great workout every time. The most satisfying workout requires you to challenge your body and your mind.
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