Exercising vigorously may boost calorie burn for hours afterward, a study finds

The calorie-burning benefits of exercise don’t stop after the treadmill does. A study finds that after exercising vigorously, a substantial calorie burn may follow.

The small study involved 10 healthy men, age 22 to 33, of various body mass indexes and aerobic fitness levels. Their calorie expenditure was measured after they exercised vigorously for 45 minutes, as well as on a rest day. Activity, rest, plus eating meals and snacks were all done under carefully controlled conditions so researchers could get an accurate assessment of calories taken in and burned.

The 45-minute exercise session (done on a cycle ergometer) burned an average 519 calories -- not bad for a workout. But the big news is what came afterward. In 14.2 hours following the exercise bout, calorie expenditure was elevated, resulting in about 190 extra calories burned.

While that may not seem like much, think of it as being able to eat about three Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies with no consequences, or getting the calorie burn of a 30-minute walk at 4 mph for free.


The authors wrote that the calorie burn could be substantial if two or three of those high-intensity bouts of exercise are done a week, and eating is kept under control.

The study appears online in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.