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A brisk walk helps beat sugar cravings, study shows
A 15-minute walk helps reduce sugar cravings in overweight individuals, according to a recent study. - photo by Marsha Maxwell
Researchers at the University of Innsbruck have given people another reason to get up and take a walk. A 15-minute brisk walk helps reduce sugar cravings in overweight individuals, according to a recent study.

Short bouts of physical activity could be valuable for reducing the urge to consume, the researchers wrote. This strategy could be helpful at times when the person may be particularly vulnerable, such as during stress and when snack foods are available.

The researchers asked overweight participants who habitually consume sugary snacks to abstain from sugar for three days. In the lab, some participants were asked to walk briskly on a treadmill for 15 minutes, as if they were trying to catch a bus, but not up to the point of breathlessness. Others were asked to sit quietly.

Researchers then subjected the participants to two stressful situations. One was a challenging mental task, and the other was unwrapping a piece of candy and holding it, but not eating it.

Participants who had walked rated their craving levels and stress levels as lower, and their moods as better, even when they experienced the two stressful situations.

"This study showed that brisk walking can be used as a strategy to reduce momentary food craving," psychologist Adrian Meule told Reuters.

If you're feeling stressed, and the allure of sweet treats is getting too strong, a walk might help you out, Paul Allen wrote for Lifehacker.

Prevention offers tips for beating food cravings, which are often responses to stress, moods or habits:

Listen to upbeat music or calling a friend.

Dont try to follow a diet that is too restrictive. Diets with less than 1,000 calories per day or diets that restrict entire food groups can make cravings worse.

Make an effort to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation increases appetite-stimulating hormones and decreases appetite-suppressing hormones.

Break habitual snacking routines by changing your environment, or by focusing on a mental picture of yourself as fit and healthy.

Eat a small serving of the food you crave. Portion it out on a plate, eat it and dont go back for more.