Metabolic implications of a 'run now, pay later' strategy in lizards: an analysis of post-exercise oxygen consumption

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2002 Oct;133(2):259-67. doi: 10.1016/s1095-6433(02)00164-2.


Lizards and many other animals often engage in locomotor behaviors that are of such short duration that physiological steady-state conditions are not attained. It is sometimes difficult to estimate the energetic costs of this type of locomotor activity. This difficulty is addressed by considering as reflective of the metabolic cost of activity (C(act)) not only the oxygen consumed during the activity itself, but also the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and any excess metabolites persisting at the end of EPOC. Data from both lizards and mammals demonstrate that EPOC is the major energetic cost when activity is short and intense. This paper evaluates the major metabolic components of EPOC in lizards. We then examine how behavioral variables associated with locomotion (duration, intensity, frequency) can influence EPOC and C(act). Short and intense activity is much more expensive by this measure than is steady-state locomotion. Evidence is provided that intermittent activity of short duration can be more economical relative to single bouts of the same activity. Metabolic savings appear greatest when the pause period between behaviors is short. In contrast, endurance is enhanced by short activity periods and longer pause periods, suggesting a tradeoff between endurance and EPOC-related metabolic costs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Lizards / metabolism*
  • Lizards / physiology
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology