Boost Your Metabolism the Natural Way


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Need another reason to get fit? New research shows that endurance-trained athletes have a higher resting metabolism than those who don't exercise. This suggests that they burn energy faster than sedentary people even without exercising--and the different is pretty significant. So while your fit friend is sitting on the couch watching TV, she's likely burning a lot more calories than you (the non-exerciser) are.

This study specifically looked at runners and found that not only does exercise appear to increase metabolism for a few a hours after exercising, but that it also changes the way that muscles convert fat. Surprisingly, study participants burned 54% more calories at rest versus those who lived a sedentary lifestyle.

Now you might be wondering "I exercise, but I'll probably never become an endurance athlete. Does that mean I won't benefit from a metabolism boost?" Previous research has shown that even moderate amounts of activity have a positive effect on your metabolism (and it's great for your health). So remember that some is always better than none!

In this study, endurance athletes were defined as men running four or more hours per week. So it doesn't mean that you have to run 10 miles a day to see these kinds of results. But maybe it's worth throwing in an extra run each week to really get your metabolism going.

The findings of this study aren't earth-shattering, but they do reinforce the significant effects that exercise can have on your body. Whether you're trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise will play a key role. So why not lace up your shoes and get going!

What do you think?

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  • 69
    My dr said my rate should be 2300 but it's only 1300. He said I should eat smaller meals more often. - 12/27/2009   10:37:59 PM
    interesting... i noticed the contradictory articles as well. however, note that the other article discusses burning *fat*, and this one discusses burning *calories*. - 9/1/2009   12:16:13 PM
  • 67
    GREBJACK: that was a single study. I think it's nice that SP shares conflicting ideas when the research *also* shows conflicting ideas. - 7/19/2009   2:44:12 AM
  • 66
    Doesn't this directly contradict the posting at
    - 7/14/2009   5:30:13 PM
  • 65
    Sounds like weight loss for free to me! Wow, to be burning extra calories while sitting here at my computer would be awesome. - 7/7/2009   4:05:34 PM
    Boy, did I need to hear this!! Gives new motivation for my exercise. Thank you! - 6/25/2009   8:23:12 AM
    Hey Lauriquinn, I am a T-Tapper too and like it for all the reasons you gave. I especially find that it makes a HUGE difference in how my low back feels. I, too, like the 15 minute workout and the step away walking workout. I have recently advanced to the 45 minute workout, and boy does it kick my butt! I really feel that I am getting so much more fit, though. Another thing I love about T-tapp is that I can feel an amazing difference in my posture.
    I will never be a runner. - 5/4/2009   11:28:38 AM
  • 62
    I cant run. I'm just not built for it. Even in my yester years when I had less bulk up top, I was not able to "run." I can however out hike most people. And out distance runners with a pack on.

    To make walking more effective without elevation change, add a pack with some weight from water or similar dense objects. While it can be viewed as having impact on your joints, most people who run have just as much stress added. As always use common sense when making a change like that.

    - 5/1/2009   11:54:58 PM
  • *DEVA*
    this is what I needed to read. I run at least three times a week and have lately been feeling like I don't eat enough calories. I tried to stay on the low end of my calorie range, but I find myself only feeling full at the higher end, even on 'good' days where I don't eat the not-so-good foods. - 4/30/2009   10:07:44 AM
    I wouldn't consider myself an "athlete" but I definitely work out a lot so I'm hoping that will eventually give my metabolism a boost! - 4/9/2009   2:53:37 PM
    About two years ago I started walking for weight loss and managed to take off 73 pounds. At that time I was averaging about 12 miles per day. In the last four months, I have becomed bored with spending 20 hours of my week walking ( I take off two days for various reasons including weather) and reduced my miles and time by walking an average of 7 miles per day for 5 days. I have stopped losing weight and in fact have gained 15 pounds of my lost weight. I cannot motivate myself to go back to the old schedule and in order to lose more weight I have to adjust my calorie intake by about 1000 calories per day to start losing on a food management program of my own. My question is (finally) has anyone used and been successful with either meditation and/or self-hypnosis.? I would appreciate any responses. - 3/28/2009   9:57:04 AM
    I started running again after a six year break from it and started out only one day a week due to the short days and it being too dark at either end of the work day. Now that daylight sticks around a while longer I added an extra day and what a boost in metabolism! I am female and 56 years old and plan to add a third day of running each week. Should be back to my desirable weight by summer. By the way, the distance is only about 3 miles so it doesn't take much time. If you can't run, then walk. Any activety is better than none. - 3/27/2009   9:24:32 AM
  • 57
    I don't run anymore after getting hit by a car while riding my bike and injuring my back and knee but I can and do walk daily. Morning is the best time as it sets the tone for the whole healthy day. - 3/27/2009   7:32:52 AM
  • 56
    I think that some form of exercise is better than none; running really revs up your metabolism; yet walking is very beneficial too. - 3/19/2009   9:21:53 AM
    I hope that counts for walking too. I have never been a huge fan of running. - 12/27/2008   5:02:12 PM
  • 54
    I too am a walker and walking on a daily basis is never a problem with me - I wonder what that does mean about how my metabolism is - 12/5/2008   10:35:41 PM
  • 53
    Intersting information but I have to admit that since I have just began my journey to lose weight and become more active, I don't find that this relates to me very much. I doubt that I will ever get into endurance training at this stage in my life. I am only hoping that my workouts are increasing my metabolism so that the weight will come off and I will be motivated to continue. - 11/14/2008   5:30:38 PM
  • 52
    I think some pretty unsupported assumptions have been made. First of all, the study consisted only of men. There are many studies that show that men maintain a higher resting metabolic rate whether they are endurance athletes or not. Secondly, numerous studies have shown that women are about 7 times more likely to have an underactive thyroid and lower body temperatures than men, both of which result in a lower metabolic rate.

    That's not to say that women shouldn't exercise regularly of course. But I think the implication that it will raise their resting metabolic rates is totally unsupported by this study. But as a fit woman with auto-immune thyroiditis (my thyroid is completely non-functional) and consequently a body temperature that averages about 2 degrees below normal, and a heart rate that drops like a bomb as soon as I am done exercising, throwing in an extra run once a week is not going to do anything to change my resting metabolic rate. - 11/13/2008   12:09:49 AM
  • 51
    Hollytyson64 - AGREED! I took almost a week off from all exercise due to shin splints, and when I came back I found not only that I had more endurance, but I also dropped 2 pounds the week I restarted! Sometimes a rest is best! - 11/12/2008   7:24:27 AM
  • 50
    I have a question, I am not able to run, do to a past injury to my ankle. So I walk, I am currently trying to up my steps to 5000 or more a day, with a goal of reaching 10,000 in the future. My question is - Will my metabolism actually icrease with walking alone? - 11/11/2008   6:56:45 PM
  • 49
    I know if I didn't join Curves last March that I would still have the weight on. I plateau now and then...when this happens I quit for a couple of days to shock my body, so that when I start going again my plateau has busted. I do notice that I am still losing weight even when I am not working out daily. I feel so good. - 11/11/2008   12:59:11 PM
  • 48
    I have not started exercising yet and I am over 50. I am hoping that starting out slow will help me get the strength and energy to do more. I work were I can walk about 1 mile inside so have made my mind up to do so during my lunch time. Thanks for all the great information here. - 11/11/2008   10:04:41 AM
    I didn;t start exercising until age 50 when my health took a turn for the woorse. Hypertention, surgery, overweight. The more I exercise the better I feel. I do 5 K's run treadmill 6 jazzercise classes a week and throw in daily activities in an old run down farm house. - 11/11/2008   9:38:17 AM
  • 46
    I swim crawl or tread water doing the bicycle 100 to 110 minutes every day.. that is swimming 2k or 80 lengths..and then doing some in the water bicycle since I am a woman just getting over a knee operation - 11/10/2008   11:09:17 PM
  • 45
    Sure the study was done of male "athletes" who run 4 or more hours per week, but I believe what I am experiencing at the moment is proof that their findings work on women too.

    I workout daily, but typically run around 4 hours a week (until I was sidelined by this annoying knee problem; now I'm on the exercise bike 4 days a week at least 80 min at a time). Let me just say one thing: increasing my running from three to four hours made a HUGE difference! I was hungrier and consuming more calories (esp carbs), but I lost body fat, inches and pounds. It was like my metabolism was spinning out of control.

    Keep in mind, before four months ago, I was a couch potato with no regard for calories, so I'm not exactly atypical. I am just a female who worked her way up the running ladder and proved this experiment true. Work your way up and see for yourself. - 11/10/2008   9:18:10 PM
  • SJPHILL1025
    This gives me all the more reason to shed my sedentary life style. I used to be very active and without the daily activity my weight just seems to go up more and more and quicker. This may be the ansure I needed and the motivation to really make a change. - 11/10/2008   7:11:36 PM
    Well, I think this is great! More reasons for me to run!!! Yay! - 11/10/2008   1:43:25 PM
  • 42
    Very good article. I've been trying to incorporate the couch to 5K program. It is my desire to be a "runner". - 11/10/2008   12:54:03 PM
    so once again a study was done on athletes. We already know they are in perfect health, they are endurance runners. How about doing a study on a group
    of mothers with 2-3 young children, through in a couple grandma's . Then do a study on men from different ages. I guarantee that the men already will do better than the women. They are made different. So, when they do the studies they need to have different guidelines for the sex and age. - 11/10/2008   10:15:59 AM
  • PANDORA130
    In the study endurance athletes were men who ran 4 or more hours a week. No mention of distance or duration of the running sessions. Were women included in the study? Were the athletes in the study always fit? What other exercise did the study's trained athletes do?

    I'm all for more exercise, but I think this information is too generalized. - 11/10/2008   9:46:22 AM
  • 39
    I don't know why but I seem to fall off the exercise wagon before the eating! I want to be a runner but as with most things in my life I seem to back away. I am just hoping to somehow become more committed regardless of if it kills me or not - 11/10/2008   9:06:31 AM
    The best exercise program I have used to date is called T-tapp by Theresa Tapp ( ). She has different workout programs to choose from, but my favorite is "Basic Workout Plus" and this takes 15 minutes from start to finish. Yes a workout program that actually does work in 15 minutes!! I also do "Step Away the Inches" which takes 23 minutes from start to finish. I can honestly say I enjoy working out and particularly enjoy seeing the results these workouts offer. I have been T-tapping for 2.5 years and can not see myself using any other exercise program in the future. The fact that I can do the workouts in the comfort of my home, need no special equipment, and can do them at my convenience means so much to me. If I have to dress, get in my car to go to the gym/walking track/etc, I just won't do it on any regularly basis and there will always be an "excuse" to not go today but will go tomorrow! To me, T-tapp is the way to go for an overall fitness workout in a short amount of time. - 11/10/2008   3:40:43 AM
  • 37
    Covert Bailey in his book "FIT OR FAT" tells about doing WIND SPRINTS, that extra burst of energy for 10 seconds and then recovery and then doing the W.S. and recovery, so you get your body to make MORE "fat burners" in your cells as it thinks "OH, NO, she's going to exercise like this all the time!!" - 11/10/2008   12:26:28 AM
  • 36
    I liked this article.. I think hiring a personal trainer works because you get them to push you a bit harder..... when I walk I think I slack off... intervals would help to get my heart rate up...... I am just phobic about running in public. - 11/10/2008   12:11:04 AM
  • 35
    I need to be more committed to exercise. Thanks for this post. - 11/9/2008   10:33:35 PM
    I'm training for a half marathon and running a 10K later this month. I think I'll think about this article on my long runs for that extra motivation to get to the finish line. I love the idea of always burning more calories, even after the run. - 11/9/2008   10:15:56 PM
  • 33
    I've started adding little running spurts into my daily walks and I have heard this speeds up the metabolism,so I am happy to hear that I'll still be burning calories when I stop - 11/9/2008   7:11:28 PM
    For Raysul and Tricotine- you guys have it backwards. There are no added metabolic benefits to running slower- only less time efficiency. Metabolic increase is highest with exercises that produce the highest levels of stress on the body like heavy weight training, high intensity cardio, weight/cardio intervals. Jeff Galloway's quote does not apply to what the original topic was- he is gearing his comments to people who are trying to get through very very long running distances (Marathons) so he advocates run/walks. He advocates running slower not to increase metabolism, but do be abel to finish a long distance race.
    Actually, by running slower you are working at a lower heart rate, less EPOC (post exercise oxygen consumption) is produced, thus less metabolic stress. Much scientific research has proven my point- so please look up the research- especially by Janda.. Sure, like Coach Jen says, someone who runs will have a higher metabolic rate than someone who is sedentary, but if you take two runners, one whom runs slow, one who runs fast, the one who runs fast (sprints/intervals) will have a higher metabolism and most likely be leaner.
    - 11/9/2008   5:09:01 PM
  • 31
    To Print: Right click your mouse and select 'print'. You'll end up printint out all of these replies as well but you can avoid that by just printing out the first page or two of the document :) Good luck :) - 11/9/2008   12:15:49 PM
    - 11/9/2008   11:51:05 AM
  • 29
    I notice that when I do more high intensity cardio (45+ min a day) 6 days a week, I suddenly get a metabolism boost of about 100-200 calories a day. Pretty cool! - 11/9/2008   11:08:16 AM
  • 28
    as someone who's just taken up running, this article makes me happy :) - 11/9/2008   11:04:52 AM
    Mrs.Brown3- Do you do weight training? Without weight training your body will burn muscle for energy. You may also need to eat more fat and protein. If you eat too little fat your body can't synthesize hormones. You could also see a podiatrist about your feet and get orthotics so that you are properly supported. - 11/9/2008   10:59:51 AM
  • 26
    HEY!!!!!!!!!!! What about people that have no arches in their feet. Flat footed is what I am. So there for I'll do the uliptical and the bike and I'll do the treadmill at an incline for a better work out than just a flat tread. If I run then my ankles hurt, my lower back hurts. But am I truly working to my full weight loss potential then? Please if there is anyone out there that knows the answers to these questions please let me know, MRS.BROWN3, Also I have been working out everymorning 5 days a week for 6 weeks, to thepoint where I'm sticky and wet from all the sweat,I eat salads and oatmeal, and I hate to say this but I have not lost one single pound. I'm 42 and they say I need to loose 27 lbs to be at my healthy weight. Is there something I can take to help my lack of weight lose? Any thing that has worked for some of you please let me know. thanks - 11/9/2008   8:57:10 AM
  • 25
    I have been thinking about running but I keep my weight off just by eating right and cardio, strength, and walking. I have maintained for about 6 months . I really like the idea of running now that the weather is cooler , though. - 11/8/2008   11:01:42 PM
  • 24
    I have definately seen this increase in metabolism. I started running 6 months ago and without changing my eating habits was able to loose 5 pounds and 10% body fat! - 11/8/2008   9:45:06 PM
  • MICHAELA2780
    I love having yet ANOTHER reason to go for a run! My new motto is "I run so I can eat!" And apparently, I run so I can burn more calories, too!!! lol - 11/8/2008   8:14:47 PM
  • 22
    Yes it applies to swimming.. I used to like to non stop swim for 90 0r 120 minutes depending on swim length time.. now after 14 months of not being able to swim because of a knee injury I am swimming again.. I have been treading water which burns just a little less calories than swimming but still way higher than walking or running..Now for the last three weeks I have learned how to swim again and better than before.. The endorphin from swimming is better than from treading water.. - 11/8/2008   3:51:43 PM
  • 21
    Walking for an hour a day definitely boosted my metabolism. 30 min. a day didn't cut it for me. - 11/8/2008   2:10:56 PM
  • 20
    I have been reading so many articles on running latele. When the temperture heats up again, my goal is to start with a 5k. I think it will ge great and I'm really looking forward to it. In the meantime, I'm incresing my endurance through aerobics. - 11/8/2008   1:56:21 PM

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