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Study Suggests Short Bouts of Exercise Could Stave off Hunger

Update Date: Jun 13, 2013 02:36 PM EDT

The subject of obesity has been the focus of many research studies. Since obesity can lead to several health complications, like type II diabetes and heart disease, finding ways of preventing weight gain is important for the global community. In a new study, researches compared different exercise routines to see if these routines could contribute to maintaining a healthier diet. The researchers discovered that short bouts of exercise throughout the day could lead to increased feelings of being full.

The research team composed of scientists from Murdoch University in Australia and from America designed an experiment with the goal of studying the appetite-regulating hormone known as peptide YY (PYY). They split participants into groups of three. The first group was the control group that did not exercise at all. The second group of participants was required to exercise one hour in the morning. The last group had to exercise intermittently throughout the day, performing five-minute bouts of physical activity.

The researchers found that the last group of volunteers felt 32.2 percent more satisfied between one and three in the afternoon. Between three and five in the evening, this group also reported feeling 26.9 percent more full. The researchers believe that these increased rates suggest that this group of people was less likely to overeat, and thus, would be better able to maintain body weight. However, the researchers did not find any changes in PYY levels.

"Despite no changes in the hormonal responses, intermittent exercise was more effective in reducing the perception of hunger as the day progressed," said Dr. Tim Fairchild of Murdoch's School of Psychology and Exercise Science. "Previous research has shown exercise's role in increasing concentrations of appetite-regulating hormones, in particular PYY's role in promoting tighter appetite control, but those studies concentrated on the first few hours after exercise. Ours is the first study to look at effects across a full day."

The researchers believe that this form of exercise could potentially help people who want to lose weight or at least control their body weight. The lack of evidence in regards to the PYY levels was not necessarily discouraging because the results revealed overall that the intermittent form of exercise did help with regulating appetite.

"While PYY concentrations weren't different, those who did shorter bursts of exercise had lower perceived hunger and increased satiety in the mid-afternoon hours," Fairchild added. "There is some evidence of an accumulative effect of exercise, even if it doesn't impact hormone levels."

The study was published in the journal, Obesity

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