Do you think of your workout as a pleasurable diversion or a dreary obligation?
If you’re a person who thinks of it as fun, you might actually lose weight more quickly than an individual who doesn’t enjoy exercising, according to some recent findings from French researchers and Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab.
In one of their recent studies, 56 participants, all healthy adult women, were instructed to go on a 1-mile walk that would be followed by lunch. Half were told the walk was for exercise while the others were told it was for pleasure. Afterwards, the participants who believed they were formally exercising ate a lot more calories from sugary soda and chocolate pudding than those who thought they were walking for pleasure.
In another study by the same group, 46 adults were given mid-afternoon snacks after a walk. The individuals who thought they’d been on an “exercise walk” ate more than twice as much candy as those who believed they were taking a “scenic walk.” According to the study authors, these studies point to the fact that people in exercise programs who don’t enjoy themselves often feel grumpy and fatigued afterward, reward themselves with food as a result, and consequently find themselves gaining weight.
If you find exercise a drag and you use food to compensate, make a real effort to make sure your workout is fun. Here are some ways to do that:
- If you walk inside on a treadmill for exercise, watch your favorite TV show, play some music, or invest in a book rack to attach to the handlebars so you can read the newest book by your favorite author.
- If you walk outside, plan an interesting route, and change it up often. If you’ve just been doing boring laps around a track, strike out on a new route that takes you past a stretch of beautiful countryside or some interesting shops (no dawdling though).
- Act like a kid: Buy yourself a jump rope and try to jump for at least 10 minutes. It’s an aerobic exercise that may carry a lower risk for knee injury than running, since both legs, rather than just one, absorb the impact.
- Switch up your exercise routine with something new. If you like swimming, consider signing up for water aerobics. If you like biking, take a spin class.
- Ask a friend to join you. Take a yoga class, enlist in Pilates, or sign up for kickboxing together.
- Take your dog for a long, long walk. You’ll both have fun, and it’s a great way to keep your pooch from getting paunchy, too.