Runners Do It Faster

Burn Calories, You Perv!

At least, this extra benefit bestowed upon those who do endurance sports (like running) is the claim made here in this brief article.

The benefits of exercise don’t stop when the running shoes come off. A new peek inside the muscles of resting athletes shows that they burn fuel even when their bodies don’t need the energy.

Researched published by Befroy, Petersen et. al. indicates that the benefit isn’t minor, either. Runners burn up to 54% more calories at rest than non-runners.

These data demonstrate that basal mitochondrial substrate oxidation is increased in the muscle of endurance trained individuals yet energy production is unaltered, leading to an uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation at rest. Increased mitochondrial uncoupling may represent another mechanism by which exercise training enhances muscle insulin sensitivity via increased fatty acid oxidation in the resting state.

That jargon means that a body will create more (and more efficient) mitochondria, which cause a runner’s body to burn more calories, even when he or she is resting. The catch (you just knew this was coming) is that you have to run (vigorously) something like 4 hours a week to get this kind of increase. Lessee – It’s true that I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since mid-May, and yes, I got quite a bit of exercise on both a stationary bike and on a treadmill (no – not walking on it, but running, starting with a slow jog and working my way up to 10 and even 9 minute miles). And yes, I also put in time doing low-intensity stuff too (mostly lunch-time walks). But I barely got in even half of that 4 hours a week of moderate to high intensity exercise they mentioned. Even counting my weekend bicycle addiction and walks with the AstroWife, I don’t think I could do that much and still have a life! without risking burnout and/or injury.

In other words, it’s a rather large (if not entirely impossible) investment in time and energy, worthy of a professional athlete. But my personal experience is that you get benefits anyway, even without running a marathon each week. I’d love to see research that shows how the improvement in muscle function increases with the time spent on the treadmill.

The CDC has decent guidelines for the amount of physical activity one should be getting. The recommend something like 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, and additional strength exercise twice a week for adults. Then they say:

More time equals more health benefits
If you go beyond 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you’ll gain even more health benefits.

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