A 15-minute walk is enough to stop food cravings brought on by stressful situations, a new study finds.
The research should help the 97% of women and 68% of men who suffer from food cravings.
The study chimes with previous research finding that a 15-minutes walk can stop food cravings for chocolate by half.
Professor Adrian Taylor, who led that research said:
“We know that snacking on high calorie foods, like chocolate, at work can become a mindless habit and can lead to weight gain over time.
We often feel that these snacks give us an energy boost, or help us deal with the stress of our jobs, including boredom.
People often find it difficult to cut down on their daily treats but this study shows that by taking a short walk, they are able to regulate their intake by half.”
Stop food cravings
The study involved 47 overweight people with an average age of 28.
All regularly ate chocolate or high calories snacks.
In the three days before the study, the participants were asked not to snack on any of their usual comfort foods.
The idea being that by the time of the study, they would be really craving a snack.
In the lab, half the participants spent 15 minutes on a treadmill, while the other half had sat quietly.
They then were given a difficult psychological test that made them stressed.
This was to cue up their food cravings.
They were then given sugary snacks to unwrap, but only ‘handle’.
The results showed that those who’d been on the treadmill had much lower food cravings than those who sat quietly.
Exercisers also showed lower physiological arousal to handling the sugary snacks.
The authors conclude:
“Short bouts of physical activity may reduce the craving for sugary snacks in overweight people.
When snacking has become habitual and poorly regulated by overweight people, the promotion of short bouts of physical activity could be valuable for reducing the urge to consume at times when the person may be particularly vulnerable, such as during stress and when snack foods are available.”
The research is published in the journal PLoS ONE (Ledochowski et al., 2015)
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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