Study Shows Walking is the Easiest to Curb Your Sugar Cravings

 A while back I noticed I was getting slightly winded when doing semi-active tasks at home.  After some reflection, I decided that something had to change. I had to improve my cardiovascular health so I wasn't so tired when doing rigorous chores.  The path of least resistance is always my first option. In this case, the easiest option was to start walking regularly. 
I committed to routine walks to help build up my cardio strength but I noticed a couple of other benefits that were somewhat unexpected.  The first thing I noticed was that I would often have more energy to work throughout the day if I walked first thing in the mornings.  My only goal was to be less tired when working...gaining additional energy was a bonus.  

 The more I paid attention, the more I realized that something unusual happened on the days when I went on my walk.  

On those days specifically, my cravings for snacks seemed to diminish greatly.  No motivation required.  

I've been an entrepreneur for a long-time and one habit that I still haven't been able to master is the constant snacking.  Sometimes I snack out of boredom, sometimes I do it because I don't have to fix a meal, sometimes I snack when I'm anxious, and sometimes I snack just because I know there are goodies located just a few feet away from me.  

Because I'm aware of my propensity to snack, I've adapted my behaviors a little. For instance, the only thing sweet in the house is dark chocolate that I'd sometimes enjoy after a meal.  Nothing wrong with that.  But when I realized that I hadn't bought any chocolate in weeks, I was convinced that my walks had something to do with it.  

...and I was right.

There's actually a study that parallels my experience.  They enlisted 47 participants who identified as frequent snackers for the study.  Specifically, they recruited folks who enjoyed and often had cravings for, sugary snacks.  But they were also instructed to abstain from eating sugary snacks for 3 days prior to conducting the experiment.  They also hadn't eaten anything for 2 hours before the experiment.

The recruits were divided into two groups.  Group A was asked to walk on a treadmill (no incline) for 15 minutes at a pace that was similar to "trying to catch a bus."  This was moderate intensity but not as strenuous as trying to catch a bus. 
The other group was asked to just sit around for 15 minutes and basically do nothing. 

Once both groups ended their 15 minutes, they were asked to sit quietly for about 5 minutes before having to complete 2 (somewhat mentally challenging) tasks.  Once the tasks were completed, all the participants were offered a sugary snack as a handsome reward.  They were all instructed to actually unwrap the snack and hold it for around 30 seconds (to increase their desire to consume it).  The purpose of the task was to slightly raise the participants' stress levels. Higher stress levels mean increased cravings for sweets.

In the end, the group that took a 15-minute walk had lower cravings for sweets than the control group even after being put into a situation that normally triggers their cravings.  This type of study has been conducted on normal-weight and overweight subjects and both yield the same results.  A short 15-minute mild to moderate exercise break reduces your desire for sweets.

So how can we apply this nugget of wisdom in our everyday lives?  First, figure out when you're prone to snack on sweets.  I tend to snack when I'm anxious about work or mid-day when I need a pick me up.  Now I'm going to plan a short session on the trampoline or a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood.  If I'm dealing with a stressful task, there's no better remedy than a short walk outside to clear my head and brainstorm ideas.  

Constantly reaching for sugary snacks is not good for our health.  Not only does it lead to unwanted extra pounds, it promotes frequent blood sugar spikes and inflammation (which can be a precursor to chronic disease).  High blood sugar levels also promote premature aging and no one wants that.  

If you find yourself still indulging in sugary snacks throughout the day and would like to avoid some of the negative side effects associated with your transgressions, try this. 

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