Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) Explained


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Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) Explained

Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) refers to the amount of oxygen the body consumes after an exercise session which is above the baseline of pre-exercise oxygen consumption. The body takes up more oxygen after work out rather than before to enable it to burn more calories in the process of recovering from the exercise. The factors that contribute to a high EPOC include an increased ventilation, re-oxygenation of hemoglobin and myoglobin, lactate re-synthesis, elevated heart rate, higher core temperature and elevated neurotransmitters. This essay discusses why Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is higher following a high intensity exercise.

Following an exercise, the body needs to go back to a resting state of homeostasis. The recovery process uses energy which explains why a person will experience increased caloric expenditure following an exercise as compared to before an exercise. Some of the changes that take place during EPOC include replenishment of energy sources, decreased body temperature, return to normal breathing and heart rate, restoration of circulatory hormones, and re-oxygenation of blood. While it is said that the body can take between 15 minutes and 48 hours to fully recover from exercise, research does not point to a specific time frame. Majority of studies posit that caloric expenditure and oxygen consumption can go up to 24 hours post-exercise.

There exists a link between cardiovascular exercise intensity and EPOC. In research conducted by Bahr and Sejerted, subjects finished exercise intensities of 75%, 50%, and 29% of VO2 max for 80 minutes recorded the greatest EPOC as a result of high-intensity exercise. Worth noting, while not all research points to actual caloric expenditure, it is well understood that for each litre of oxygen that is consumed, about five calories get burned in all nutrition and exercise physiology contexts. After a higher intensity exercise, the EPOC duration is significantly low compared to low intensities of 10.5 hours versus 3.3 and 0.3 hours. Researchers probed the effects of high-intensity (75% VO2 max) and low-intensity (50% VO2 max) exercise on EPOC response. Despite the energy cost in both exercises being 500 calories, the bout with the higher intensity (9.0 litres, 45 calories) had a significantly higher EPOC when compared to the lower intensity bout (4.8 litres, 24 calories). Numerous studies have been conducted to probe the effects of high intensity, which is the long duration of exercise of EPOC. Maehbum et al. found that EPOC of 26 L after 80 minutes of cycling in eight men and women at 70% VO2 max(Jung, Won-Sang, et al., 45). Additionally, they also found that VO2 was elated by an averagely 5% of 24 hours after exercise. These studies show that exercise post-exercise oxygen consumption tends to contribute highly to an overall caloric expenditure, but they vary between subjects.

Research provides mixed results when it comes to the effect of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This is because numerous factors tend to contribute to the elevated caloric expenditure such as mode of exercise, exerciser fitness level, exerciser gender, and duration and intensity of exercise. Moreover, research designs variations make it hard to come to a consensus. Majority of research points to an EPOC effect of 50-200 calories after resistance training and interval training. Worth noting, in this process, more calories get expended during exercise sessions. The maximum EPOC response is demonstrated by resistance exercise and longer duration and/ or high intensity. Generally, the greater the intensity of exercise, the higher the magnitude and duration of EPOC. Numerous forms of exercise are recommended to increase EPOC effects, including interval training, heavy resistance training, tempo training, and circuit resistance training.

Works Cited

Jung, Won-Sang, et al. “Effect of interval exercise versus continuous exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption during energy-homogenized exercise on a cycle ergometer.” Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry 23.2 (2019): 45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6651650/