The cheat: Cutting class before the cool-down
The verdict: Go ahead and take off! It's not mandatory to stick around for a guided stretch — or to complete a whole hour-long class. Recent research out of Appalachian State University in North Carolina shows that after 45 minutes of intense exercise, your body may remain in an elevated calorie-burning mode for up to 14 hours. But before you make a beeline for the showers, you must give your heart a chance to slow down, especially after an intense session, says Meghan Callaway, a certified personal trainer in Vancouver. The good news is walking home from the gym or even taking the long way to the locker room will help your body ease back to its regular rhythm.