Want to Get More Out of Exercise? Think, Fun

Could it be that easy?  A new study says that if you think of exercise as fun, or a treat, instead of oh-God-it's-time-to-go-running, you'll lose weight.

According to newswise.com, "Think of your next workout as a fun activity or as a well-deserved break – not exercise – and you’ll eat less and lose more weight, according to a new study from Cornell University Food and Brand Lab."

The study analyzed the eating habits of people after walking 2 km (a little more than a mile) – half the participants were told the walk was exercise, while others were told it was a scenic walk.

Researchers found that those who believed they completed an exercise walk ate 35 percent more chocolate pudding for dessert than those who had been on a scenic walk. On a different occasion, those thinking they had taken an exercise walk ate 206 more calories -- 124 percent more calories – than those who had been told they were on a scenic walk. 

According to researchers, the study shows one reason why people in new exercise programs often find themselves gaining weight – new exercisers have a tendency to reward themselves by overeating after their workout. 

I can certainly relate to that.  When I started doing Zumba -- really strenuous exercise for me, when, at the time, I ran a 15-minute mile -- I was starving when I finished.  I went right home and devoured a coffee cake, thinking, well, I burned it off, right?  I'm the only person you'll ever know who gained weight doing Zumba.

I, of course, over time realized I just couldn't do that, so I stuck to a more vigorous exercise program -- swimming and running an 11-minute mile and water aerobics -- and the weight didn't come off in gobs.  I found it was what I put in my mouth that mattered.

But thinking of exercise as fun couldn't be a bad thing.  Experts advise to 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. “Anything that brings a smile, is likely to get you to eat less," the Web site quotes Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.


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