Enjoying your workout could be key to eating less
Many people engage in physical activity to justify a reward later, usually dessert or other sweets, but new research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab shows enjoying your workout may eliminate this desire to indulge in unnecessary calories.
The research included three studies to determine how perceiving exercise affected food consumption. The findings showed that when individuals thought of their exercise as a fun activity, they ate less food for the purpose of enjoyment and pleasure after a workout.
The first two studies manipulated how participants perceived a physical activity. After completing the activity, which was described either as exercise or fun, researchers measured their food consumption. Participants in the first study freely consumed as many calories as they wanted while participants in the second study served themselves M&M’s™. Researchers compared the number of hedonic calories consumed by each group and found the exercise group consumed significantly more empty calories.
The third study asked runners in a race how much fun they had while running. Researchers gave the runners a choice between a hedonic snack and utilitarian snack, food consumed out of need, and found runners who rated the race as fun were more likely to make the healthy snack choice.
The study authors said framing exercise as a fun activity reduces an individual’s urge to indulge by diverting his or her attention away from the effort required by the activity, which may reduce the feeling of “entitlement” for a food reward.
“Do whatever you can to make your workout fun. Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you’re working out instead of working in the office,” Brian Wansink, author and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, said in a news release. “Anything that brings a smile is likely to get you to eat less.”
“It is important that calories in ‘need’ to be less than calories ‘out’ to lose weight, exercise or not,” Dr. Debruler said. “A 500 calorie deficit per day will lead to 1 pound per week weight loss.”
- Join a neighborhood walking group
- Push the baby in the stroller
- Go for a family bike ride
- Walk along fields while watching kids play
- Take the dog for an afternoon walk
- Drive less – walk, cycle or skate more
- Do exercises, run on the treadmill or ride a stationary bike while watching TV
- Spend time gardening
- Play outside with the kids
- Exercise with a workout video
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