When you’re trying to lose weight—or keep it off—finding effective ways to deal with cravings is an absolute must. And a new study shows there may be a simple way to manage those inevitable cravings—while reaping a whole lot of other benefits in the process.
The study looked at 47 overweight people who reported eating “high-calorie sugary snacks” every day. They were asked to avoid eating these foods for 3 days, and then they were split into two groups: Half took a brisk walk on a treadmill, while the other half sat quietly for the same amount of time.
Then both groups were given a stressful mental aptitude test called the Stroop test. (During this test participants have to complete “brain teaser” type questions as quickly as they can.)
After the stress test, subjects had to unwrap their favorite snack and hold it for 30 seconds. Researchers measured their heart rate and blood pressure to determine their craving and “emotional arousal” levels.
The study’s authors found that the stress induced by the Stroop test increased candy cravings in all the subjects. But those in the treadmill group had lower pulse rates and reported less severe cravings then the control group.
So the next time you find yourself daydreaming about a candy bar, donut, or ice cream, get up and take a walk. You’ll knock out your craving—and get all the other benefits associated with regular exercise too.
“Acute Effects of Brisk Walking on Sugary Snack Cravings in Overweight People, Affect and Responses to a Manipulated Stress Situation and to a Sugary Snack Cue: A Crossover Study,” PloS One, epub ahead of print 3/15/15