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The effect of exercise on metabolism

Anyone who gains weight rapidly or has difficulty losing weight may have a metabolic disorder. These people are more likely to hear advice to exercise more. Because sports activities will promote proper metabolism. But is this true?

Sport should boost metabolism and thus increase calorie consumption – such is the assumption. But is the impact that the movement could have in this regard exaggerated? However, one study came to a surprising conclusion.

course of study

In order to determine the effect of exercise on metabolism, the responsible scientists first measured the total energy expenditure of 348 adults. Participants drank a glass of water that had previously been enriched with hydrogen and oxygen isotopes. can be traced in the body. Isotopes are lost through metabolic activities such as excretion, sweating, and respiration. The speed at which the isotopes leave the body allows conclusions to be drawn about the number of calories burned – and thus the speed and efficiency of the metabolism. Total energy expenditure measured in this way was measured at two different points in time. For some of the test subjects, there were just two weeks between measurements, for others up to eight years. Finally, physical traits such as height, fat, and muscle mass were included to infer whether a person had a “fast” or “slow” metabolism.1

Metabolism is individual

The surprising result: People’s metabolism varied by 20 percent or more—no matter how much exercise they did and how fit they were.

Does an inefficient metabolism lead to weight gain?

According to experts, one possible sign of a weak or slow metabolism is weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. But of course, these symptoms do not apply to everyone who suffers from metabolic disorders. The study discussed here also provides indications of this.

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In a second step, the scientists investigated how metabolism affects a person’s weight and compared test subjects’ data over different periods of time. Does a faster metabolism automatically mean losing weight more easily? No, according to the researchers. A slow metabolism did not increase the likelihood of weight gain in study participants, and a fast metabolism decreased the likelihood of weight gain.

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Sport affects the whole body

According to the study, exercise has no direct effect on metabolism. It should be noted that a study from 2021 was able to show the effects of training on metabolism. What’s more, depending on the time of day you exercise, the effect on your metabolism varies. (FITBOOK reported).2

In the end, it is clear that physical activity – regardless of the specific effect on metabolism – has a positive effect on health. Regular exercise can prevent a variety of diseases, improve cardiovascular health, keep the body moving, and even protect against mental illness.3 On the one hand, the idea that exercise boosts metabolism, and thus makes it easier to lose weight, seems to be a false assumption — or at least universally defensible for everyone.


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