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10 Reasons to get the Flu Shot

  1. “I can deal with the flu and I’m too busy”. Consider this: certain people are particularly vulnerable and more likely to die if they get the flu such as infants, too young to be vaccinated, the immune-compromised (whether from disease or from immune-suppressing medications), pregnant women, and the elderly. Get the flu shot to protect your grandmother. Over 36,000 people die annually from the flu in the US.
  2. “I don’t need the vaccine because I’ve never had the flu.” Yet, there is no guarantee that you won’t get it. You may have never had a house fire, but that’s not a reason to drop fire insurance.
  3. “The vaccine gave me the flu.” Impossible. The injectable vaccine contains no live virus, and the nasal spray vaccine contains an attenuated form of virus too weak to cause the disease.
  4. “It doesn’t work: I was vaccinated but I got the flu anyway.” You may have had another flu-like illness or flu from a strain not covered by the vaccine. If you got the flu from a strain that was covered, you probably had a much milder case than you would have without the vaccine.
  5. “It causes dangerous side effects.” Most side effects are mild and transient. Serious side effects are extremely rare. The disease is far more dangerous than the vaccine. A sore arm for a couple of days is a small price to pay for avoiding a disease that could kill you.
  6. “I can protect myself naturally with Echinacea, Airborne, vitamin D, and other natural preventive measures.” There is not data to support this view.
  7. “The flu isn’t so bad.” Yes it is! It can kill people, put them in the hospital, and cause symptoms so bad they wish they would die. 36,000 people die from the flu annually in the US.
  8. “It hasn’t been evaluated for safety.” It was evaluated for safety before it went on the market, and surveillance is ongoing. There are 1,342 references on PubMed on the safety of flu vaccine.
  9. “I don’t want to spend the money.” A lost week of wages, a funeral or a hospital stay costs a lot more than a flu shot.
  10. “Injecting organisms into your body to provoke immunity is contrary to nature” – according to the infamous Dr. Mercola. Nature kills people. Medicine is all about trying to keep nature from hurting people. “Contrary to nature” is a good thing.

Hall, H. (2016). The skepdoc:flu shots: facts and fallacies. Skeptic (Altadena, CA), (2),

Written by Andrea Foehrkolb


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Functional Training?

Article from March 10, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

Quite often, new clients ask me what functional training is and how it differs from traditional personal training. I define functional training as a personalized exercise program that involves strengthening the entire body, and preparing the body to perform the activities required by everyday life activities. For example, if I were working with a new mother I would design a training program focused on core and upper body strength development to help in the carrying of a new baby. Consider the core and upper body strength that is required when you carry and place a child in a car seat.   But if you were training for a marathon, your training program would be focused on developing endurance and low body range of motion exercises. As a functional trainer, my goal is to develop a personalized training program designed to develop the muscles necessary to perform everyday life activities more easily, while minimizing the risk of injury. (1)

Functional training doesn’t focus on traditional weight training machines that are found in most fitness facilities because these highly specific machines target only a single range of motion and do not reflect the movements we use in our daily life activities or sports. Instead, I prefer to use exercise balls, barbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, cable machines, resistance tubing, rocker boards, and lastly, your body weight. A research study conducted in 2008 compared functional training to fixed equipment training. At the conclusion of the study, not only did the functional users have a significant increase in strength that the fixed-form group did not, nearly 58%, but the functional group also saw an overwhelming improvement in balance over the fixed-form group, at a rate of nearly 200%. (2)

Give functional training a try and I guarantee you will see and feel the results within the first month.

(1)  O’Sullivan, Susan B. (2007) Physical Therapy, F.A. Davis Company, pp.1335. ISBN 0-0836-1247-8.

(2)  Spennewyn, K. 2008. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, January, Volume 22, Number 1.

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Best Exercise to Reduce Fat

Article from April 27, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

What is the best exercise strategy to reduce body fat? Recently, researchers at Duke University performed a randomized, controlled study to compare changes to body composition by performing resistance training, aerobic training or a combination of both. Nearly 200 motivated men and women participated in the 8 month study.  Participants in the aerobic training group exercised at 66-80% of peak heart rate by walking, running, using an elliptical trainer, or cycling  3 times per week. Participants in the strength training group performed supervised strength training exercises (3 sets of 8-12 reps) of the major muscle groups three times per week. Participants in the combined group performed both the aerobic and the strength training workout each week. The results were very interesting. The group performing resistance training alone did not reduce fat mass, but did increase lean muscle mass and strength. Aerobic training alone was the most successful at reducing body fat, but no increase in overall body strength was observed. If your objective is to decrease body fat, then an exercise regimen that contains aerobic workouts is critical to achieving this objective. If you want to increase lean muscle mass while reducing body fat, then an integrated program of both strength training and aerobic training personally designed for you may help you to achieve these goals.


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Static Stretching

Article from May 13, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

Stretching is the second phase of the Corrective Exercise Continuum for the treatment of muscle imbalances and to decrease over activity of neuromyofasciall tissue. The most popular treatment modality for lengthening and preparing the tissue for other corrective exercise techniques is static stretching (SS). SS utilizes a combination of low force with long duration stimulation to produce autogenic inhibition of the targeted muscle tissue. It is widely accepted that its usage contributes to relaxation and concomitant elongation of muscle, Clark & Lucett, (2011). Of interest to the health and fitness community, SS is a flexibility technique used to increase the extensibility of muscle and the lengthening of connective tissue to increase the range of motion (ROM) at a joint. It is thought that SS decreases muscle spindle activity and motor neuron activity, Alter et al., (2004).

           Guissard et al., (2001) evaluated the neurological impact of SS. They concluded that SS of neuromyofascial tissue to the end ROM may decrease motor neuron excitability possibly by the inhibitory effects from the Golgi tendon organs. This decreased excitability via the interneuron is called the Renshall cell. or as recurrent inhibition. Recurrent inhibition acts as a feedback circuit to decrease the excitability of motor neurons. Overall it is theorized that this may decrease the responsiveness of the stretch reflex and increase tolerance to stretching allowing for increased ROM. McHugh and Cosgrave (2010) summarized that 20 to 30 seconds of SS may produce an acute viscoelastic relaxation response that produces increased ROM. They theorize that these increases to joint ROM may be a result of tolerance to SS and not a change in the viscoelastic properties of myofascial tissue.

         A large percentage of my clientele are endurance athletes that  have muscular imbalances resulting from their distance running participation. I am frequently asked by athletes if they should stretch before  and post running.  To further develop my position on SS, I researched the effects of SS and running performance.

            SS before and after running is a common practice among recreational and elite athletes as part of a warm-up routine. A study involving 10 male runners over a 10 day period was established to determine the effects of static stretching on running performance. Measurements were taken for sub-maximal performance, peak VO2 uptake, pulmonary gas exchange and neuromuscular performance to evaluate performance. Running economy was evaluated using 70% of max VO2 and lactic threshold measurements while the subjects were running on a treadmill. Running performance was evaluated during a 10 minute constant speed run before and after stretching. The control group participants sat quietly during the time allocated for the static stretching group. The results of this study indicated that static stretching did not have an influence on these runners and had no effect on oxygen consumed or total energy expended, Alison et al., (2008).

            Hayes &Walker (2007), in a similar study performed with 7 male runners, running economy and steady-state oxygen consumption was measured for the final 3 minutes of a 10 minute run. There was no change in running economy or steady state VO2 consumption. There was an increase in the range of movement within the study group however. McHugh & Cosgrave (2010)  performed a review study to examine the current literature on the effects of stretching on sports injuries and performance it was concluded that static stretching does not reduce the risk of overuse injuries (common in runners) but does reduce the risk of developing muscle strain injuries.

            I support the efficacy of SS and recommend  it’s usage to increase ROM, strength and performance. There is evidence to support these claims and additionally it may decrease injury risk in healthy individuals. I recommend to my clients the use of SS after inhibition techniques (SMR) have been performed on a targeted muscle group. I also recommend SS after a through warm up has been performed or post dynamic stretching and upon the completion of the work out. The literature supports acute pre exercise stretching performed in isolation decreases strength and performance. SS does not affect injury risk in healthy individuals, Clark & Lucett (2011).

Andrew Foehrkolb   drew@columbiapersonaltraining.com

           Allison, S. J., Bailey, D. M., & Folland, J. P. (2008). Prolonged static stretching does not influence  running   economy despite changes in neuromuscular function. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26(14), 1489-1495.

           Alter , M., (2004) Science of Flexibility, 3rd Ed., Champaign, IL: Human Kenetics.

           Clark, M., Lucett, S., (2011) NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Lippencott Williams, Baltimore, MD

            Guissard, N., Duchateau, J., Hainaut, K., (2001) Mechanics of decreased motoneurone excitation during passive muscle stretching. Exp Brain Research 137(2): 163-9.             

Hayes, P. R., & Walker, A. (2007). Pre-exercise stretching and exercise economy. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (Allen Press Publishing Services Inc.), 21(4), 1227-1232.

 McHugh, M. P., & Cosgrave, C. H. (2010). To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention  and performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 20(2), 169-181.

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Is Kinesio Tape for You?

Is Kinesio Tape for You?

Article from May 13, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

CLAIM: The Kinesio® Taping Method is a therapeutic taping technique used in conjunction with Kinesio Tex tape.  It targets different receptors within the somatosensory system; Kinesio® Tex Tape alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin.  This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas. Kinesio® has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, enhance performance, prevent injury and promote good circulation and healing, and assist in returning the body to homeostasis. It has been proven to have positive physiological effects on the skin, lymphatic and circulatory system, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.


P: Kinesio Tex tape and taping method alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage, re-educates the neuromuscular system, reduces pain and inflammation, enhances performance, prevents injury, promotes good circulation and healing, and assists in returning the body to homeostasis.

I: Use of Kinesio tape and taping method for the treatment of common athletic injuries

C: Use of other treatment modalities not involving the taping of the treatment area

O: Kinesio taping has shown some promise in limited small scale testing on selected areas. Further research is needed to confirm the advertised benefits of Kinesio Tape and Taping method.

GROUNDS: Yoshida (2007) evaluated the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape on trunk flexion, extension and lateral flexion. Thirty healthy male and female participants had a piece of Y-shaped kinesio tape applied to the origin of the sarcospinaris to the estimated insertion as theorized to support muscle function. The tape did improve lower trunk flexion and had no effect on extension or lateral flexion. (1) Merino (2011) evaluated the effects of Kinesio taping on the gastrocnemius and soleus to prevent cramping and injury during Olympic length triathlons. Kinesio tape was applied to both calves of six  healthy male triathletes 1-2 hours before racing. An interview was conducted post race to determine if the athlete had cramping or contractures. (2)  Cools (2002) evaluated electromyographic activity of the taped scapular rotators in the shoulders of twenty healthy male subjects. A strip of Fixomull stretch tape was applied over the upper trapezius anterior and proximal of the clavicle. Recording electrodes were placed over the upper, middle and lower portions of the trapezius and portion of the serratus anterior to measure electromyographic signal response during muscle contractions. Movements were evaluated with and without tape. (3)

WARRANT: The performance claims made by the Kinesio® taping method and Kinesio® Tex Tape on their website were not substantiated by the literature I reviewed. Supporting documentation or any other type of scientific, peer reviewed supporting documentation was not listed on their website. There are several supporting studies referenced in the literature by the annual Kinesio Taping International Symposium. (4) I believe a bias exists between the studies performed by the Kinesio Taping Institute and related discussions and papers.  

BACKING: The Merino (2011) study did not provide adequate data i.e. the total number of races used for the  evaluation was not provided nor was a long term follow-up after the races performed to determine post race DOM’s or injury.(2) The study lacked a control group and it was not stated if the same person/persons was used to apply the tape. The Yoshida (2007) study did not have a taped placebo group nor were the evaluators shielded from the taped subjects. (1) Cools (2002) found no significant differences in muscle activity in the trapezius and the serratus anterior muscle resulting from the application of the tape. They did conclude proprioceptive influences due to tape application that may explain a positive effect of the tape on functional shoulder performance. (3) In a round table discussion, Konin (2010) discusses the uses and application of kinesiotaping with 4 clinicians. (5)  The general consensus was that kinesiotaping had great results in managing acute inflammatory responses, postural retraining, and repetitive stress injuries. Halseth (2003) evaluated the use of Kinesio tape as a means to enhance ankle proprioception. Reproduction of joint position sense was measured in thirty subjects while they were blindfolded and wearing headphones playing white noise. No significant differences were measured between the taped ankles vs the non-taped ankles. (6)

Andrew Foehrkolb drew@columbiapersonaltraining.com

(1)   Yoshida,A., Kahanov,L., (2007). The effect of kinesio tapping on lower trunk range of motions. Research in Sports Medicine, 15; 103-112. DOI:10.1080/15438620701405206

(2)   Merino,R,. Fernandez,E,. Iglesias, P,. Mayorga,D,. (2011) The effect of Kinesio taping on calf’s injuries prevention in triathletes during competition. Pilot experience. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise.6(2) 305-308. DOI:10.4100/jhse.2011.62.10

(3)   Cools, A. M., Witvrouw, E. E., Danneels, L. A., & Cambier, D. C. (2002). Does taping influence electromyographic muscle activity in the scapular rotators in healthy shoulders?. Manual Therapy, 7(3), 154-162

(4)  Kase, K.,  Hashimoto, T,.  (2005) Changes in the volume of peripheral blood flow by using kinesio tape.  www.kinesiotaping.com/

       (5)    Konin,J.,(2010).Kinesiotaping. Athletic Training and Sports Health Care, 2(6), 258-259

      (6)   Halseth, T., McChesney, J,. DeBeliso, M,. Vaughn, R,. Lein, J,. (2003) THE EFFECTS OF KINESIO       TAPING ON PROPRIOCEPTION AT THE ANKLE. Research in Sports Medicine, 15:103-112 DOI:10.1080/1543862701405206

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Safe Sun Tan?

Safe Sun Tan?

Article from May 31, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and over 10,000 people die each year from causes directly linked to sun exposure. To put this information into perspective, one in five Americans is expected to develop some type of skin cancer during their lifetime. (American Academy of Dermatology, 2013)

Sun exposure is now a year-round skin danger due to the thinning of the ozone layer and the use of artificial tanning salons. The sun produces two primary types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UVA rays deeply penetrate the skin and produce genetic damage at the molecular level while UVB rays burn the outer layers of the skin (epidermis). ( National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization, 2013)

A tan is the skins reaction to UV radiation from the sun or from artificial tanning bulbs. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, a brown pigment (melanin) is produced as a defense mechanism. Melanin darkens the cells of the outer layer of the epidermis to prevent further damage.

UV rays damage the DNA of your skin cells and over time the molecular damage can lead to cellular mutations known as skin cancer. Prolonged repeated exposure to UV radiation causes skin wrinkles, sagging, and brown spots. Additionally, UV radiation is a prime contributor to clouding of the lenses of the eye (cataracts).

There is no such thing as a safe tan. Tanning causes DNA damage to skin cells and has been directly linked to melanoma and other deadly skin cancers. Some research indicates that just one sunburn can more than double your risk of developing melanoma.

Practical Skin Protection Basics

Sunscreen Basics– There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that the key to avoiding sun damage and sunburn is the correct usage of sunscreen. Sunscreens are chemical barriers applied topically that prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin. Most sun screen manufacturers combine several different chemical ingredients to provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Ingredient Protection
PABA derivatives



UVB protection

Avobenzone or Parsol 1786


Titanium dioxide

Zinc oxide

UVA/Remaining UV Spectrum

Use a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 35 or higher. What does this number mean? If your skin burns within the first 30 minutes of exposure to the sun, a sunscreen with a SPF of 35 may provide all day protection. Don’t expect your sunscreen to provide protection that long due to contact loss, and perspiration dilution.

  •      Most sunscreen manufacturers and dermatologists recommend reapplying every 2-3 hours, after swimming, and after  periods of heavy perspiration.
  •      Apply sunscreen 30 minute prior to sun exposure
  •      Use a liberal amount of sunscreen- at least one ounce per person per application- one shot glass
  •      Sunscreen has a shelf life of 12 months. Check the manufacturer’s date before purchasing and discard sunscreen from last year
  •      Cover all skin exposed if possible with a tightly woven fabric. Wear a wide brimmed hat that covers the neck, ears, scalp, and face.
  •      Protect your eyes by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses with wraparound frames. Eyelids and the skin around your eyes are common sites for skin cancer. Sunglasses may also reduce the risk of developing cataracts.

If you are concerned about vitamin D deficiency from avoiding time in the sun, consider supplementation. The risks of sunburn and skin damage are real and cumulative. Train smart and be safe!

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What’s Your BMI ?

What’s Your BMI ?

Article from June 28, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

What’s Your BMI?

The nation’s leading physician’s organization, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted Tuesday June 18, 2013 to declare obesity a disease, a move that now defines 78 million American adults and 12 million children as having a medical condition requiring treatment (Center for Disease Control.)

“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately 1 in 3 Americans,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member.

As defined by the AMA, obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) value greater than 30. As you all know I provided you with your BMI and body fat % during the initial assessment meeting. If you don’t remember your values please send me an email and I will provide you with your most recent assessment. The CDC has a BMI chart that is easy to use. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/

The AMA believes that obesity is a significant health hazard requiring proactive treatment to diminish or prevent the health complications that may accompany it. Obesity complications include Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure, and Diabetes. A regular exercise program in conjunction with a reduced calorie program has been found to reduce body weight and associated complications. Knowledge is power.

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Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain ?

Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain ?

Article from July 31, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

In a recent article written by Susan E. Swithers PhD, and published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Swither’s proposed that the consumption of artificial  sugar substitutes may contribute to increased weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Swithers is a researcher with the Department of Psychological Sciences and Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University. Dr. Swither’s proposes the idea that consuming no-calorie; sweet-tasting foods and drinks interfere with learned human metabolic responses that help maintain our normal weight and glucose (blood sugar) balance. This interference may have the counterintuitive effect leading to weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.(1)

The consumption of artificial sweeteners in the USA has been dramatically increasing in the last 10 years.  30% of adults and 15% of children reported weekly consumption of low calorie sweeteners in a 2007-2008 survey. Consumption of artificial sweeteners also parallels with changes in the occurrence of obesity and overweight rates over the same time. The San Antonio Heart Study documented weight changes in men and women over a 7-8 year period. Participants who were normal weight or overweight at the start of the study had the greatest risk of weight gain and obesity when they consumed artificial sweeteners. Numerous other studies sighted linked the use of artificial sweeteners to type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. When taken together these studies suggest a direct link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and a greater risk of becoming overweight, obese, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. (2)

Possible reasons for this response are related to how the body physiologically responds to high-intensity sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners stimulate different brain responses when compared to naturally occurring sugars. Artificial sweeteners by themselves do not stimulate an insulin response as sugar would and unlike sugars, artificial sweeteners do not help the body’s natural insulin response to meals. Artificial sweeteners may in fact weaken the body’s learned response to subsequent ingestion of natural sugars having negative consequences.

The negative consequences of eating artificial sweeteners should not be interpreted as a reason to substitute sugar as a replacement. Current data suggests the total reduction of sugar in the diet as a safe means of maintaining overall health. Healthy substitutes for soft drinks are spring water and carbonated water flavored with lemon or lime juice. To get your caffeine dose in the morning coffee and tea (both black and green) are good replacements for soft drinks.                

 Drew Foehrkolb MS NASM-CPT/CES www.columbiapersonlatraining.com    

(1) Swithers, Susan E., (2013) Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism xx (2013) 1-11

(2) Fowler, S.P. et al, (2008) Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificial sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain. Obesity 16, 1894-1900

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Internal Circadian Clock and Weight Gain

Internal Circadian Clock and Weight Gain

Article from August 28, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

In a 2013 study published in Obesity, researchers from the Division of Sleep Medicine with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA evaluated the relationship between appetite and our internal circadian sleep clock.  What the researchers found was surprising.

       Twenty healthy non-obese adults were studied throughout a 13-day period. Standard laboratory protocol procedures were followed to normalize total calories ingested and calories expended. Participants rated their appetite and food preferences throughout the study.  The study found that the desire for food was greatest at 7:50 pm and at it’s lowest at 7:50 am.  They also found an increased appetite for sweet, salty and starchy foods, fruits and meats/poultry, and food overall in the evenings. The increase in appetite in the evening was evaluated to be in the 14-25% range! Also noteworthy was a lack of desire among study participants to eat vegetables; suggesting that the circadian system regulates the desire to eat high calorie foods.

     The circadian rhythm and hunger peaks in the evening may have provided our ancestors an evolutionary advantage in times of food shortages because eating the largest meal in the evening, prior to sleep, leads to increased weigh gain.  Unfortunately, now with nearly unlimited access to high fat/calorie foods and an increased desire to eat sweet, starchy foods, especially in the evenings, unwanted weight gain occurs.

      What do we do with this information?  Know that our desire to eat high starchy, high calories foods may be a natural occurrence and that we can mitigate weight gain though several steps.

  1.     Eat your last meal of the day at least 3 hours prior to sleep. If this is not possible eat a low calorie “dinner” high in vegetables and low in fat. Reduce or eliminate snacking after dinner and before bedtime.
  2.     Train yourself to eat within 60 minutes of waking and continue to eat throughout the day in 3 hour intervals.
  3.     Determine what your total calorie requirements are and spread them out equally through the day eating every 3 hours.
  4.     Make nutrient dense food decisions.  Focus on fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein as the primary source of calories in your diet.

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Post Exercise Metabolic Effect

Post Exercise Metabolic Effect

Article from October 21, 2013 by Andrew Foehrkolb

Fall is here and the holiday season is starting in earnest. One way to keep your weight in check during the upcoming holiday season is through vigorous exercise.

   A recent study performed at the University of North Carolina Human Performance Laboratory evaluated the role of exercise and the metabolic rate.

10 men were monitored using a metabolic chamber for two 24 hour periods. One day the subjects cycled for 45 minutes (70% VO2max) and the other day was a non-exercise day. The study participants were measured in the metabolic chamber in tightly controlled conditions. All energy and macronutrient intakes and energy expenditure data was collected during the 24 hour study period. Energy intake and expenditure was matched on both the rest and exercise days to ensure zero energy balance under both conditions while the daily living activities were controlled.

  The study concluded that exercise significantly raised the metabolic rate for 14 hours post exercise. On average 190 additional calories were expended after exercising and 32 calories while sleeping. Even though this study used stationary cycling as a means to achieve 70% VO2max, I believe similar results may be achieved using a treadmill or other equipment as a means to achieve this cardiovascular workload and to achieve the effect of post workout metabolic stimulation. The net effect of calories expended over a 24-hour period and weight loss is meaningful if two or three such exercise bouts are performed during your weekly training schedule and calories consumed are controlled.