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What Is Oxygen Debt?

Author : Phil Tucker

When we exercise we are in effect burning energy to accomplish things. Depending on how strenuous your exercise levels are, you could range from breaking a light sweat and slightly heavier breathing to panting for breath and getting dizzy with sweat drenching you. What is going on in your muscles when you work out this hard, and what does this have to do with Oxygen Debt? This is a term that several new hot workouts are throwing around, and they make it sound like the solution to all your exercise and weight loss woes. Is Oxygen Debt the silver bullet for weight loss? In today's article we are going to take a look at this mechanism, see how it works, and whether there is any truth behind this most recent claims.

When we exercise several things happen. Our blood vessels dilate and blow flows into our muscles to increase the amount of oxygen available to our cells. The harder we exercise, the more oxygen we need, but there is a limit on how much oxygen we can supply to our cells before we simply can't do any more. When this happens pyruvic acid that is being used to generate ATP which is the source of energy for our movements can no longer continue, and the pyruvic acid instead begins to become Lactic Acid.

Instead we derive our energy from anaerobic glycolysis, which is a temporary solution at best as this requires that we turn the glycogen stored in our cells into energy. Since there is very little glycogen stored in our muscles, we can only operate at our max for very brief intervals of time.

Once we relax, however, we can once again get oxygen to our cells, and this is where the oxygen debt comes in. We need the oxygen to catabolize the lactic acid into carbon dioxide and water, to replenish the ATP in our cells, and to replenish the oxygen that has been borrowed from our blood, to fill our lungs and more. This additional oxygen comes under the name of oxygen debt.

Does this mean that we will continue to burn calories after we have finished exercising? Yes, it does, but not to the degree that some exercise guru's make it sound. We will need to continue healing our body from the damage it took while exercising, but this isn't a silver bullet for our exercise needs.

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Tags:   diet, fitness, health, weight loss, exercise

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Submitted : 2011-08-02    Word Count : 413    Times Viewed: 413