The effect of exercise interventions on resting metabolic rate: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Sports Sci. 2020 Jul;38(14):1635-1649. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1754716. Epub 2020 May 12.


The systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated the effect of aerobic, resistance and combined exercise on RMR (kCal·day-1) and performed a methodological assessment of indirect calorimetry protocols within the included studies. Subgroup analyses included energy/diet restriction and body composition changes. Randomized control trials (RCTs), quasi - RCTs and cohort trials featuring a physical activity intervention of any form and duration excluding single exercise bouts were included. Participant exclusions included medical conditions impacting upon RMR, the elderly (≥65 years of age) or pregnant, lactating or post-menopausal women. The review was registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (CRD 42,017,058,503). 1669 articles were identified; 22 were included in the qualitative analysis and 18 were meta-analysed. Exercise interventions (aerobic and resistance exercise combined) did not increase resting metabolic rate (mean difference (MD): 74.6 kCal·day-1[95% CI: -13.01, 161.33], P = 0.10). While there was no effect of aerobic exercise on RMR (MD: 81.65 kCal·day-1[95% CI: -57.81, 221.10], P = 0.25), resistance exercise increased RMR compared to controls (MD: 96.17 kCal·day-1[95% CI: 45.17, 147.16], P = 0.0002). This systematic review effectively synthesises the effect of exercise interventions on RMR in comparison to controls; despite heterogenous methodologies and high risk of bias within included studies.

Keywords: Measurement; exercise; metabolism; nutrition; physiology.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Basal Metabolism / physiology*
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Resistance Training