A 15-minute stroll can curb snacking on chocolate at work by half, a new study has suggested. The research by the University of Exeter showed that, even in stressful situations, workers eat only half as much chocolate as they normally would after this short burst of physical activity.
In the study, 78 regular chocolate-eaters were invited to enter a simulated work environment, after two days abstinence from chocolate snacking.
The other two groups were asked to have a rest before completing the same tasks as the first two groups. Again, half were given an easier and the remainder a more challenging task. Chocolate was available in a bowl on the desk for all participants as they carried out their work.
Those who had exercised before working consumed on average half the amount of chocolate as the others: around 15 grammes, compared with 28 grammes. 15 grammes is equivalent to a small ‘treat size’ or ‘fun size’ chocolate bar.
The difficulty of the task made no difference to the amount of chocolate they ate, which suggests that stress did not contribute to their cravings for sweet snacks.
"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," lead researcher Professor Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter said.
"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."
Exercise is known to have significant benefits for mood and energy levels and has potential for managing addictions.
The study has been published in the journal Appetite.