Exercise can cure snack cravings

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If you have a candy jar at the office you may want to take short walking breaks to ward off cravings.

Most of us have sat in an office where there are little bowls of candy set out everywhere. Some next to a co-worker who passes them out relentlessly.

Depending on the country, these snacks could be anything from wrapped chocolates to baklava. But regardless of what snacks we’re munching and where in the world we’re munching them, they usually translate directly to weight gain.

Professor Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter, who has spent years researching snack habits, 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 Professor Taylor’s research shows a bit of exercise can help break this habit. In a recent experiment, he found a brisk 15 minute walk before work significantly reduced subjects’ chocolate consumption.

In the study, 78 avowed chocolate-eaters entered a simulated work environment. They were broken up into four groups–two who got a short break before starting “work” and two who walked on a treadmill for 15 minutes. The participants then sat down at a desk and completed various tasks. A bowl of chocolates was well within reach the whole time.

At the end of the day, those who exercised before working ate just half the amount of chocolate as the others: an average 15 grams compared to 28 grams (15 grams is about the size of a single “fun size” chocolate bar).

Taylor’s previous studies found exercise can reduce chocolate cravings, but this is the first to show reduced consumption. He concluded that mild exercise is a convenient and efficient way to reduce cravings for sweets. Bear it in mind next time you reach for the office snack bowl!