EXERCISE
January 6, 2012

Help for Chocoholics

Self-proclaimed chocolate-lovers who were asked to do this ate half as much chocolate as a similar group who didn't.

If you made a New Year's resolution to cut down on chocolate, success could be as easy as going for a walk. Workplace snacking on chocolate was cut in half after a 15-minute walk on a treadmill, in a study conducted by the University of Exeter.

And while not everyone can get away from their desk for a long walk, most people can get up for a short one.

The next time the cravings hit, get up from your desk and walk around.

The study took place in a simulated office and looked at 78 regular chocolate eaters who had abstained from eating chocolate for two days. Everyone had a bowl of chocolate at their desk while working and could eat as much as they wanted. Half of them were asked to rest before being given a work assignment, while the other half took a brisk 15-minute walk on a treadmill first.

The group who had taken the walk ate about 15 grams of chocolate during their work, while the group who had rested ate 28 grams, about an ounce.

Half of the people had been given an easy work task, while half had been given a more demanding one. The difficulty of the work made no difference in the amount of chocolate eaten, suggesting that stress was not was not a factor.

Somewhat like chocolate, exercise is known to improve mood and boost energy level. The Exeter researchers had previously shown that exercise could curb cravings for chocolate, but this is the first study to show that it can actually influence people to eat less of it.

It's not clear if exercise in general or walking specifically was responsible for making chocolate less appealing. But it does suggest a strategy for anyone who snacks at work and wants to cut down. The next time the cravings hit, get up from your desk and walk around.

Of course, not having a bowl of chocolate on your desk or candy bars in the drawers is an even better strategy. But for those who do, a little exercise at work may be the way to make them less tempting.

An article on the study appears in the the journal Appetite.

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