Women's health * Men's health * Healthy living * Weight loss

Exercise halves chocolate consumption

Exercise halves chocolate consumption Cravings independent of stress

If you regard a chocolate snack as a guilty pleasure, there may be a way to mitigate your guilt.

Scientists have found that taking a 15 minute walk can cut your chocolate consumption at work by half.

This was found to be true even in stressful situations, which suggests that short breaks from work help keep the mind off snacks.

The research was performed by a team from the University of Exeter, who tested 78 chocolate eaters over two days in a simulated work environment.

The volunteers were made to abstain from chocolate for two days, and divided into four groups.

Two groups were asked to take a brisk 15 minute walk, followed by work at a desk. Half were given a easy task, the other half a more challenging one.

The other two groups were made to take a rest before being split and given an easy task, or a hard one.

All groups had access to chocolate in a bowl on their work desk.

The research team found that those who had exercised consumed on average half the chocolate - 15 grammes as opposed to 28 grammes - as those who did not exercise.

How challenging the work task was made no difference to the amount of chocolate consumed, suggesting that stress did not play a role in the snack cravings.

Lead researcher Professor Adrian Taylor from the University of Exeter 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."

Previous research by Professor Taylor and his team found that exercise plays a role in curbing chocolate cravings, but this study is the first to show a reduction in consumption.

The research is published in the journal Appetite.

This article was published on Thu 8 December 2011

Image © IKO - Fotolia.com

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