Whenever someone is looking to get healthy, a workout routine is typically part of the plan—whether the goal is to increase overall physical fitness or to burn calories for weight loss. But a recent study from researchers at the Center for Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science at Drexel University in Philadelphia has linked working out to another surprising benefit when it comes to winning the battle of the bulge: It may actually help people eat less, not more.
The investigation, published in Health Psychology, found that when overweight participants involved in a reduced-calorie weight loss program did not engage in exercise, the risk of them overeating in the following hours was 12%. Flip the script, and the risk of overeating was cut by more than half, to 5%, when people engaged in 1 hour of exercise. Moreover, for every additional 10 minutes of exercise a participant engaged in, the likelihood of overeating afterward decreased by a further 1%.
Interestingly, the study results also suggest that lighter physical activity had a greater protective effect against overeating than did more vigorous workouts.
Overall, this study indicates that exercise may help people adhere to a calorie-controlled diet, perhaps through improved regulation of appetite or positive changes in eating behavior. Also, these findings make a case for more moderate forms of activity, like walking, as being helpful with diet maintenance. That’s important for individuals who are not yet ready for more intense exercise pursuits.
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