Finding it harder to keep weight off as you age? Try these exercises that boost metabolism.
One of the biggest obstacles on the road to weight loss is a slow metabolism. No matter how much dieting you do, if your metabolism is sluggish you may not burn calories or fat fast enough to feel (and see) the benefits of your good habits.
That’s why exercise is essential if you want to shed the pounds for good. But, it’s not just for burning extra calories while you sweat. Regular exercise is critical for raising your metabolism so you burn fat more easily throughout the day – even while you sleep.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into why exercise is so closely linked to metabolism, how to build an exercise routine to supercharge your metabolic rate, and give you eight exercises that boost your metabolism.
The Link Between Exercise and Metabolism
So we know that metabolism is tied to weight loss, but what exactly is metabolism?
Simply put, metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food you eat into energy. This energy fuels everything from breathing to thinking to running.
Your metabolic rate is the speed at which your body carries out these processes. If you have a balanced metabolic rate, it will be easy for you to maintain a healthy weight, feel energized, and stay healthy. If your rate is slow, however, it can be harder to lose extra weight and you may struggle with other health issues.
Where does exercise come in?
When you engage in physical activity, your muscles work harder, and they demand more energy. This increased demand triggers your body to increase its metabolic rate to meet the demands for fuel. Beyond burning more calories during your workout, you’ll also burn more calories while at your desk working, running errands, or sleeping. This is because your metabolism stays elevated for hours to days after exercising. Exercise on a consistent basis, and your metabolic rate will creep up and up!
Regular exercise, especially a combination of cardiovascular and strength training, also boosts metabolism by building and maintaining lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, which means it will burn more calories while you’re at rest. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories (and fat) your body burns for energy throughout the day.
The Benefits of Regular Exercise on Metabolism
> Increased BMR and Fat Burn
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain basic physiological functions – things like breathing, circulation, and creating new cells. Regular exercise raises your metabolic rate to burn more calories (especially from fat) doing these daily functions.
> Builds Muscle Mass
Your muscles don’t just keep you limber and strong; they also regulate your metabolism.
The more strength training and other forms of exercise you practice, the more lean muscle mass you build. This muscle tissue requires more energy at rest than fat tissue, leading to an elevated BMR.
> Triggers the “Afterburn Effect”
Ready to feel the burn? Intense workouts, especially those involving high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can create an “afterburn” effect, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). During the afterburn, your body continues to burn extra calories post-workout to restore oxygen levels and repair tissues.
> Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, plays a crucial role in regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin sensitivity refers to how effectively your cells respond to insulin signals. If your body becomes desensitized to insulin (“insulin resistance”), it can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.
Exercise, particularly aerobic and resistance training, has a positive impact on insulin sensitivity. When you exercise, your muscles take up glucose more efficiently which reduces the reliance on insulin. This benefits both your blood sugar levels and your metabolic rate.
Why Consistent Exercise Is Key
For those who aren’t big fans of exercise, you may be wondering if you can simply do an intense exercise once in a while to boost your metabolism. Unfortunately, the weekend warrior mentality doesn’t work so well when it comes to metabolic rate.
Without regular exercise, your muscles don’t need as much energy, and your metabolic rate can start to dip. As your metabolic rate slows down, your body becomes less efficient at using calories for energy.
Think of your body as a car and your metabolism as the engine. If you drive the car a little ways every day, it stays in good working order. If it only gets revved up once in a while, it becomes stagnant and less efficient over time. That’s why regular, consistent, sustainable exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy metabolism and overall well-being.
Lifestyle Factors that Influence Metabolism
While exercise is essential for boosting metabolism, there are other key players in the metabolic game. These lifestyle factors can play a significant role in how fast – or slow – your metabolism is:
You know you need sleep for energy. But did you realize that quality rest actually helps you burn calories and stay fit? When you get quality sleep, your body undergoes essential processes, such as repairing tissues, synthesizing hormones, consolidating memories, and regulating your metabolism.
Lack of sleep can disrupt the balance of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the fullness hormone), leading to increased appetite and potential overeating. Sleep deprivation can also reduce insulin sensitivity, which makes it harder for your body to regulate blood sugar levels. This can contribute to weight gain and a sluggish metabolism.
The good news is that the sleep-metabolism link works both ways. Getting enough sleep can help you speed up your metabolism and burn more calories during your waking hours.
Along with regular exercise, a healthy diet is essential for resetting your metabolism. The right nutrients can optimize your metabolic processes, while poor nutritional choices can throw a wrench in the works.
So, how does food affect metabolism/ Digesting and metabolizing food requires energy. Different macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) have varying “thermic” effects (the energy needed for your body to digest, absorb, and metabolize your food). Proteins require the most energy for digestion, and therefore help to stimulate your metabolism more than, say, refined simple carbohydrates.
How you eat is just as important as what you eat. While skipping meals may seem like a good way to cut calories and lose weight, this actually puts your body into starvation mode. This signals to your body that resources are scarce, and your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Therefore, it’s best to eat a balanced diet of regular meals with an emphasis on lean proteins that can slightly boost your metabolic rate.
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> Stress Management
From minor inconveniences to major issues, life’s demands can send your stress levels soaring. It’s not all in your mind– the body, too, responds to stress by releasing stress hormones like cortisol. While these hormones are essential for survival, chronic stress can have a negative impact on your metabolism.
Elevated cortisol levels, often a result of chronic stress, can interfere with insulin function and lead to increased fat storage, particularly around the belly (or “stress belly”). Stress may also drive you to indulge in comfort foods, which are often high in sugars and fats. This can contribute to weight gain and slow down your metabolism.
The Best Exercises for Boosting Metabolism
There’s no question about it – exercise makes up a crucial part of your metabolic reset plan. But which exercises are best for revving up your metabolism?
Cardio Exercises that Boost Metabolism
Cardiovascular exercises, commonly known as “cardio,” get your heart pumping and increase your breathing rate. These activities not only burn calories during the workout but also trigger that sought-after afterburn effect that keeps your metabolism elevated post-exercise. Try these:
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. This approach is excellent for burning calories, improving cardiovascular fitness, and boosting metabolism in a shorter amount of time.
- Warm-up: 5 minutes of brisk walking or light jogging.
- Intervals: 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of walking or slow jogging. Repeat for 15-20 minutes.
- Cool Down: 5 minutes of walking and stretching.
> Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling, or swimming, keep your heart rate increased for a sustained period of time. This leads to enhanced endurance, high-calorie burn, and improved cardiovascular health.
- Run/Walk: 30 minutes of alternating between running and walking.
- Cycling: 45 minutes of moderate-paced cycling.
- Swimming: 30 minutes of continuous swimming.
Strength Training Exercises the Boost Metabolism
Strength training gives your metabolism power. It not only helps you build and maintain lean muscle mass (which burns more calories than fat tissue) but also drives the afterburn effect. Try these:
> Resistance Training
Resistance training is anything that involves working against a force, typically using weights, resistance bands, or body weight. This helps strengthen muscles and boosts metabolism by increasing muscle mass.
- Squats: 3 sets of 12 reps.
- Push-ups: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 12 reps per arm.
> Weight Lifting
Weight lifting focuses on lifting heavier weights for fewer repetitions. This type of training stimulates muscle mass growth and improves overall strength.
- Deadlifts: 4 sets of 8 reps.
- Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Overhead Press: 3 sets of 8 reps.
Calisthenics is a type of resistance training that uses your body weight for resistance, rather than weights. It’s an excellent option for those who prefer minimal equipment, yet still want to enhance strength and flexibility.
- Pull-ups: 3 sets of as many reps as possible.
- Bodyweight Squats: 4 sets of 15 reps.
- Plank: 3 sets, holding for 60 seconds each.
Flexibility and Balance Exercises the Boost Metabolism
While flexibility and balance exercises may not have the same calorie-burning intensity as cardio or strength training, they play a crucial role in overall metabolic health. These exercises have far-reaching benefits, from improved joint mobility to mental relaxation. They also reduce the risk of injury and contribute to a well-rounded fitness routine.
Is stretching a part of your daily routine? If not, it should be. Stretching is a simple activity that promotes flexibility, reduces muscle stiffness, and enhances blood flow to muscles. Incorporate dynamic stretches before workouts and static stretches post-workout.
Yoga combines physical postures with breath control and meditation for a truly integrative approach to movement medicine. It improves flexibility, strength, and mental well-being. Plus, yoga relaxes the mind and reduces cortisol levels, which helps keep your metabolism in balance.
Pilates is similar to yoga but focuses on core strength, flexibility, spinal alignment, and overall body awareness. It’s a low-impact exercise that can be adapted to different fitness levels. Research also shows that pilates can help metabolize fat.
How to Create a Metabolism-Boosting Exercise Routine
Now that you know which exercises are great for boosting your metabolism, it’s time to create a workout plan for you. Here are some practical tips to help you create an exercise plan that aligns with your goals and supports a healthy metabolism.
1. Set realistic goals.
Before you dive in, start by deciding what you want to work towards. Having set, realistic goals can help you stay motivated and avoid exercise burnout. Choose goals that are measurable, like “do 30 minutes of cardio at least three times a week,” or “stretch for 10 minutes each morning to improve flexibility.”
2. Mix up your exercises.
A mix of workout styles will keep you from getting bored and falling off track. Plus, blending cardio, strength, and mind-body practices helps stimulate your metabolism in different ways for a more effective approach.
3. Aim for consistency.
Rather than challenge yourself to go longer, faster, or harder, aim to be consistent. Short, frequent workouts stimulate your metabolism, increase your energy burn, and keep you motivated.
4. Don’t forget to rest.
Rest days are a critical part of a well-rounded exercise routine, just like your workout days. Your body needs time to repair, build new muscle, and grow stronger. To stay active, try shifting to activities like gentle stretching, walking, or yoga on your rest days.
Need More Help Resetting Metabolism?
Exercise is good for your body, mind, and metabolism. You can use these tips and exercise styles to jumpstart your metabolism and make faster progress on your weight loss journey.
However, exercise is just one piece of the puzzle. Resetting your metabolism requires lifestyle changes across all facets of your life, from what you eat to how much you sleep and how you manage stress.
Along with these exercise tips, consider eating more foods that speed up metabolism, and taking on other simple lifestyle changes for a total metabolism reset. For a real jumpstart, consider your system a fresh slate with Aceva’s Ultimate Body Cleanse. This 10-day program guides your body through 5 specialized cleanses to reset your body and your metabolism.
The best approach to resetting your metabolism, however, is to work with a trusted expert to reach your goals. Our AlignLife chiropractors are here to help you create a wellness plan to reset your metabolism and achieve your weight loss goals through personalized diet, weight management programs, and even made-for-you exercise routines.
Ready to take a more strategic approach to boosting your metabolism and feeling your best? Schedule a visit with your local AlignLife Center here to get started today!