TUESDAY, Dec. 13, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- A short walk can cut the amount of chocolate and other snacks you eat while at work, a new study suggests.
U.K. researchers created a simulated work environment for 78 people who were regular chocolate-eaters but had gone two days without eating chocolate. They were divided into four groups.
Two groups took a brisk 15-minute walk on a treadmill and then were given either an easy, low-stress task or a more difficult, high-stress task to complete at a desk. The two other groups had a rest instead of walking before being given either the easy or difficult task.
All the participants had a bowl of chocolate on their desks while they worked on their tasks.
On average, those who exercised before doing the task ate half the amount of chocolate as those who rested before the task -- 15 grams versus 28 grams. Fifteen grams is equivalent to a small, "fun-size" chocolate bar.
The difficulty of the task did not affect how much chocolate the participants ate, which suggests that stress does not influence the cravings for sweet snacks, the University of Exeter researchers pointed out in the report published online in the journal Appetite.
"We know that snacking on high-calorie foods, like chocolate, at work can become a mindless habit and can lead to weight gain over time," lead researcher Adrian Taylor said in a university news release. "We often feel that these snacks give us an energy boost, or help us deal with the stress of our jobs, including boredom. People often find it difficult to cut down on their daily treats but this study shows that by taking a short walk, they are able to regulate their intake by half."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about the benefits of walking.