Even a single exercise session can help you burn calories more efficiently

Research suggests even after just one workout session, your body will start reaping the benefits

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We all know that regular exercising can help you burn more calories and lose weight in the gym (or in your home gym). And according to recent research conducted by Oregon State University (OSU), even one session of moderate intensity aerobic exercise can help your body burn calories more efficiently. 

This means you can hit the gym when it fits your schedule, without having to worry about committing yourself to regular exercising, and still see the benefits of that one workout.

As opposed to measuring fatigue levels, the study looked at energy consumption on a cellular level. 

As ScienceDaily reports, "OSU researchers recruited participants who do not follow a regular exercise routine and had them ride a stationary bike for an hour at a moderate intensity. They biopsied their muscles 15 minutes later to test how efficient the mitochondria were after the exercise was completed and compared those results with a resting day."

What they found is that after the exercise session, "participants' mitochondria burned 12-13% more fat-based fuel and 14-17% more sugar-based fuel."

Matt Robinson, lead author on the study said that "while the effects were not drastic, they were consistent". Although the connection between exercise and calorie burning has been established long ago, this study proves that otherwise sedentary people can benefit from exercising, even after just one session.

Person doing ab crunches on the floor in front of a mirror

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Better still, they don't even have to crank the intensity up to the max either. Study participants were working out around 65% of their maximum effort, meaning they were able to keep the effort consistent for an hour while still being able to keep a conversation without becoming out of breath. 

As great as HIIT workouts are, older people especially might not be able to perform them without the risk of injury. Running on a treadmill or pedalling away on an elliptical trainer in the gym or at home might just be enough exercise to kick start cellular metabolism and calorie burning.

That said, even Dr. Robinson emphasised the importance of frequent workouts: "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".

Matt Kollat
Matt Kollat

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.