Even one single session of exercise helps you lose weight, according to science

You only have to go on a single run or do a HIIT session to start getting the benefits of exercise

Men exercising to lose weight
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How long do you think you need to be following your exercise regime in order to see some of the benefits? One month? Two? Six? Well, it's great news for impatient, results-hungry people: exercise can start encouraging your cells to burn more fat after just a single session.

The discovery comes from researchers at Oregon State University, who sought the examine the effect a single session of exercise has on our cells' mitochondria, the part of the cell responsible for the biological process of turning fuels like sugars and fats into energy. They took participants who didn't exercise regularly, placed them on one of the best exercise bikes for an hour, and recorded their bodies' response. 

Matt Robinson, lead author on the study and an assistant professor at Oregon State, 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."

Couple exercising

(Image credit: Getty Images)

That's right. Even just a single session of exercise was proven to increase the body's fat-burning response on a cellular level, at a rate of 12-13% more fat-based fuel and 14-17% more sugar-based fuel. All you have to do is complete a single session of exercise to affect this change: although it won't be permanent unless you're consistent.

Robinson says: "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."

It's been known for a while that exercise can increase your base metabolic rate by upping your body's demand for oxygen, especially if you a dynamic full-body exercise like some of the best exercises for weight loss, or resistance training with heavy weights and adjustable dumbbells.

However, we didn't know that a single session of exercise changes our body's cells until now. The knowledge that you can do something today to start your weight loss journey is very encouraging indeed. There's nothing else for it: lace up your workout shoes and get out there!

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. 

Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.