Taking a Walk Could Stop Chocolate Cravings
Researchers have found that taking a brisk fifteen-minute walk could reduce cravings for chocolate.
Researchers at the University of Exeter asked twenty-five regular chocolate eaters – after three days of abstinence – to either complete a fifteen minute brisk walk or rest, in a random order. They then had the participants engage in normal tasks that would bring on the chocolate cravings, such as completing a mental challenge and opening a candy bar.
After doing the exercise, participants reported lower cravings for chocolate than after the rest. While cravings were reduced after the walk, it also continued on for at least ten minutes afterwards.
Professor Adrian Taylor of the School of Sport and Health Sciences, lead author on the paper, comments: “Our ongoing work consistently shows that brief bouts of physical activity reduce cigarette cravings, but this is the first study to link exercise to reduced chocolate cravings. Neuroscientists have suggested common processes in the reward centres of the brain between drug and food addictions, and it may be that exercise effects brain chemicals that help to regulate mood and cravings. This could be good news for people who struggle to manage their cravings for sugary snacks and want to lose weight.”
The benefits of exercise have been known to help people manage other addictions, such as nicotine and other drugs, but this is the first study that shows it may be beneficial to curb the food cravings.
Professor Taylor concludes: “While enjoying the occasional chocolate bar is fine, in time, regular eating may lead to stronger cravings during stress and when it is readily available. Recognising what causes us to eat high energy snacks, even if we have plans to not do so, can be helpful.”
“Short bouts of physical activity can help to regulate how energised and pleasant we feel, and with a sedentary lifestyle we may naturally turn to mood regulating behaviours such as eating chocolate. Accumulating 30 minutes of daily physical activity, with two 15 minute brisk walks, for example, not only provides general physical and mental health benefits but also may help to regulate our energy intake. This research furthers our understanding of the complex physical, psychological and emotional relationship we have with food.”
This research is published in the journal Appetite.