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Try Thinking of Exercise As Fun And You Will Eat Less Afterwards: Study

Update Date: Jul 09, 2014 08:52 AM EDT

If you think of your next exercise workout as fun or well-deserved break you will eat less afterward, according to a new study. However if you think of it as a workout, you are likely to eat more dessert and snacks. 

The research, carried out by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab study, involved two studies in which adults were led on a 2 km walk around a small lake and were either told it was going to be an exercise walk or a scenic walk. 

Researchers observed that those who believed they had been on an exercise walk served and ate 35 percent more chocolate pudding for dessert than those who believed they had been on a scenic walk. 

In the second study researchers considered 46 adults who were given mid-afternoon snacks after their walk. Adults who thought they had taken an exercise walk ate 206 more calories of M&Ms, which was over twice as much - 124% more - than those who had been told they were on a scenic walk, the press release quoted. 

"Viewing their walk as exercise led them to be less happy and more fatigued," said lead author, Carolina Werle, professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France.

Findings of the study point to one reason why people in exercise programs often find themselves gaining weight. 

For beginning or veteran exercisers, the bottom line is this: "Do whatever you can to make your workout fun.  Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you're working out instead of working in the office," said Brian Wansink, author and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, in the press release. "Anything that brings a smile, is likely to get you to eat less," he added.

The study will be published this month in Marketing Letters. 

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