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Physical Activity for Weight Maintenance

It is well known that the number of calories burned during physical activity can be beneficial for weight maintenance. This caloric expenditure may amount to several hundred calories – 100 calories/mile is a fairly good estimate. A few hundred calories hardly seems worth the effort considering that a person expends 2,000-3,000 calories per day, but there are a number of other ways that physical activity helps with weight maintenance besides the number of calories expended during the activity.

There is substantial caloric expenditure after exercise while the metabolism of the body is elevated above resting levels. Depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, the metabolic rate can be elevated for hours after exercise. The more intense the exercise and the longer the exercise, the greater the caloric cost during recovery.

It is well known that muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue. We also know that a training program that includes physical activity can impact body composition – both by increasing muscle mass and decreasing fat mass. This increased muscle mass with a training program results in a greater metabolic rate, which is a tremendous benefit in weight maintenance. There is also evidence that metabolic rate may be increased with a training program independent of changes in body composition.

Exercise also appears to be a mild appetite suppressant. This decrease in appetite is best exemplified with exercise that is quite intense (intense enough to increase catecholamine levels – around 75% of maximal exercise).

So do not be discouraged by thinking about only the caloric expenditure from your exercise session because there are other benefits of exercise for weight maintenance that include: calories expended during recovery, increased metabolism, and exercise as a mild appetite suppressant. Give your training program some time to realize some of these other benefits of exercise.

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