Does exercise increase metabolism?

Does exercise increase metabolism?

Does exercise increase metabolism?

Did you know that regular exercise can affect your metabolism? Read and find out how does exercise increase metabolism.

The Found Team
Last updated:
January 7, 2022
5 min read
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Among the trendy diets and promises of weight-loss fads, the term “metabolism” often takes center stage. But what is this magic, gut-shrinking term, and how does it relate to regular physical activity and exercise?

In short, metabolism is just a fancy way of describing how your body burns calories. Thus, a steady and consistent weight-loss program of healthy eating habits and regular physical activity will help you achieve the desired results through your metabolism. 

Curious about how does regular exercise improve cardiovascular function and your metabolism? Regular exercise does, in fact, boost your resting metabolic rate. This means your body will become more efficient at burning calories and using those extra calories for energy to keep you going. 

With this in mind, keep reading to learn more about how to crank your resting metabolism into high gear.

How does exercise affect your metabolism?

Your metabolism doesn’t refer to just one action. Instead, your metabolism can be broken into three separate methods of burning calories, including:

  • Thermic effect of food (TEF) – Your digestive process requires energy to process the healthy foods you eat and move them through your system. TEF accounts for approximately 10 percent of your daily energy usage. 
  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR) – Your RMR refers to the amount of energy your body uses to survive. Every process in your body requires energy in the form of calories to run effectively. About 75 percent of your daily energy expenditure is used when you aren’t doing anything at all.
  • Physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) – Lastly, your PAEE is the amount of energy you use to perform physical activities like lifting weights during your morning workout. This also includes working out and doing simple daily tasks like vacuuming your living room or cooking dinner.

The sum of all of these equals your daily metabolic rate. When the amount of calories consumed is the same as your metabolic requirements, your body weight and muscle mass will typically remain the same.

This is why exercising is a critical component of weight loss. The more you move your body, the more calories you’ll burn each day. To lose one pound, you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. If you break this down into one week, you’d need to create a daily deficit of 500 calories. Depending on your metabolic rate, this can equal anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day each week.

When you skip the workout portion of the metabolism pie, you must significantly reduce the number of calories you eat. However, over time, eating too little can slow your metabolism down. This is why it’s crucial to work with professionals—starving yourself to reduce calorie intake will only have negative consequences. Sustained weight loss requires a lot more than regulating calorie intake. Found takes into consideration your unique biology when creating a weight care plan designed specifically for you.

What influences your PAEE?

So does exercise increase metabolism? Yes, and your actions have the biggest impact on the physical activity portion of your metabolism. You can control how much you move during the day, but you can’t control how much energy it takes for your body to process your last meal. 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pin down the exact number of calories you’ll burn doing physical activities. Everyone has a different level of PAEE, which is largely influenced by:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body size
  • Body composition
  • Genetics

Many people experience plateaus in weight loss. As your body weight decreases, you will most likely burn fewer calories during each session if you don’t change the intensity or type of exercise you’re doing.

How can you increase your metabolism with exercise?

Don’t get discouraged by the fact that you’ll burn fewer calories through exercise as you lose weight. You’ll find that your healthier body has more energy, and you feel ready to tackle tougher workouts as you get fitter. This can help mitigate the decrease in calorie burn and improve your PAEE throughout your weight loss journey. 

Tip #1: Step up your cardio routine

There are many benefits of aerobic exercise and one of them has to do with your metabolism. The first trick to maintaining an effective calorie burn with your workouts is to perform cardio, or aerobic, exercise regularly. The good news is that the list of activities that count as aerobic exercise is quite long and includes a variety of activities. Some excellent choices are:

  • Jogging
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Dancing
  • Doubles tennis
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Stair climbing

It’s important to vary your cardio exercise routine by mixing both the type of activity you perform and the intensity. The CDC recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. However, to lose weight, you’ll likely need to increase that amount. The 150-minute as a target heart rate for weight loss suggestion is just a baseline for good health. ​​

Adding intense bouts of movement will also rev up the calorie burn. This can include activities such as:

  • Running 
  • Biking on hills
  • Swimming quick laps
  • Playing basketball
  • Singles tennis

When you add small bursts of more intense activity, you’ll get the same positive effect of moderate exercise in about half the time—one minute of vigorous activity is equal to about two minutes of moderate movement. This makes it easier to fit your exercise goals into your day while still reaping the metabolism-boosting benefits.

Tip #2: Don’t skip strength training

The next component of your workout routine that can help increase your metabolic rate is performing at least two strength training sessions per week. You’ve probably heard the claim that muscle burns more calories than fat. This is true in that muscle has a higher level of metabolic activity than fat. Thus, when you build muscle through strength training, you’re creating tissue that will use more energy each day.

There are many activities that you can perform to increase strength, including:

  • Yoga
  • Weight-lifting
  • Pilates
  • Resistance band exercises
  • Body-weight exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups)

Even if you don’t have access to weights or other equipment, your body weight is sufficient for building the muscle you need to experience an increase in RMR.

Tip #3: Break up your workouts

There’s long been a belief that your body will continue to burn more calories after you finish working out. Unfortunately, the increase in metabolic rate after exercise doesn’t last for a significant period. 

While the lasting effect of metabolic burn after you finish exercising is minimal, breaking your workouts into smaller, more manageable chunks does have benefits for your long term weight loss efficiency, such as: 

  • Time management – Lack of time is often a barrier to exercise. It can be daunting to find an hour per day to set aside for exercise. However, three 20 minute bouts are easier to fit in and just as effective as one long session.
  • Energy availability – You might also find that you’re able to exercise more intensely if you perform two shorter sessions instead of one long one. You’ll give your body a little time to recover between sets so that you can work harder.

Adding intensity, strength training, and breaking your workouts into multiple daily sessions boost your PAEE which can lead to greater weight loss success.

What else helps increase metabolism?

Exercising regularly is a major benefactor, but there are other steps you can take to boost your metabolism. When paired with exercise, you’ll find your energy levels increase when you:

  • Eat more frequently – This might seem counterproductive—won’t eating more often cause you to gain weight? Short answer: no. As long as you’re consuming the same number of calories, breaking them up into smaller meals will cause your body to rev up for digestion more times each day, moderately increasing calorie burn each time.
  • Add protein to your diet – Along with helping you build lean muscle, protein can help you feel full longer, resulting in lower calorie consumption. A study funded by the Austrian Science Fund suggests that a diet rich in lean proteins may also boost your TEF metabolic rate higher than consuming carbohydrates and fats.
  • Hydrate adequately – Drinking a sufficient amount of water may also help prevent you from overeating at mealtimes. We often mistake thirst for hunger which causes us to eat more. Water can help increase your feeling of satiety without adding excess calories to your diet.
  • Sleep well – Not getting enough high-quality sleep is linked to a host of health problems, including obesity. When you’re overtired, your body doesn’t burn calories as efficiently as it does when you’ve slept well. Furthermore, you won’t have the pep to get out and exercise when you’re exhausted. 

As you can see, exercise is just one piece of the puzzle you need to fit in to maximize your metabolism’s energy-burning power.

Balance all aspects of your metabolism with Found

A consistent exercise routine is the first step to a higher-performing metabolism. When paired with healthy eating habits, quality sleep, and proper hydration, you’ll find that you feel like your body is balanced and functioning optimally. Sometimes, though, your body resists your attempts to get healthy. 

That’s where we step in. Here at Found, we’re here to help you get back on track. We harness the power of cutting-edge science and leading health professionals to help you lose weight and keep it off. 

Take our quiz today and discover if we’re the right choice to help you achieve your health goals.


Essays in Biochemistry. Metabolism.

PubMed. A Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Fat Diet to Treat Obesity and Hyperlipidemia.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Control of Energy Expenditure in Humans.

CDC. How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?

PubMed. Skeletal Muscle Metabolism is a Major Determinant of Resting Energy Expenditure.

PubMed. Exercise for Weight Loss: Further Evaluating Energy Compensation with Exercise.

PubMed. A High-Protein Diet For Reducing Body Fat: Mechanisms and Possible Caveats.

The Obesity Society. Drinking Water is Associated with Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women Independent of Diet and Activity.

National Academy of Science. Impact of Insufficient Sleep on Total Daily Energy Expenditure, Food Intake, and Weight Gain.

Published date:
January 7, 2022
Meet the author
The Found Team
The Found Team


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