Getting in just one hour of exercise makes cells burn calories at a faster rate for up to two days, according to a new study.
Researchers who studied people who do not follow an exercise routine found a moderate aerobic workout has a positive fat-burning effect for up to two days.
Regular exercise creates lasting change in people’s metabolism, making their bodies burn more energy even when they’re not working out.
But this study is the first to discover that even just an hour’s exercise in sedentary people boosted their health.
The team at Oregon State University carried out tests on mitochondria, the part of the cell which turns fuels such as sugars and fats into energy.
Participants with a low level of fitness rode a stationary bike in which they could comfortably carry on a conversation for an hour.
Their muscles were then biopsied 15 minutes later and then compared the results a day later.
Post-exercise, study participants’ mitochondria burned 12 to 13 per cent more fat-based fuel and 14 to 17 per cent more sugar-based fuel.
The effects were not drastic, but consistent, the researchers said.
Lead author Dr Matt Robinson, Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said: “What we found is that, regardless of what fuel the mitochondria were using, there were mild increases in the ability to burn off the fuels.
“It’s pretty remarkable that even after just one hour of exercise, these people were able to burn off a little more fuel.”
He added: “From a big picture health perspective, it’s very encouraging for people to realise that you can get health benefits from a single session of exercise.
“We’re trying to encourage people, ‘You did one, why don’t you try to do two? Let’s do three.’
“We know that exercise is good for you, in general. But those benefits of that single bout of exercise seem to fade away after a day or two.
“You get the long-term benefits when you do that exercise again and again and you make it a regular habit.”