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Exercise following Mental Work Prevented Overeating

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aimed to replicate previous findings that mental work increases caloric intake compared with a rest condition and assess whether exercise after mental work can offset this effect.

Methods

Thirty-eight male and female university students were randomly assigned to mental work + rest (MW + R) or mental work + exercise (MW + E). Participants also completed a baseline rest (BR) visit consisting of no mental work or exercise. Visit order was counterbalanced. During the MW + R or MW + E visit, participants completed a 20-min mental task and either a 15-min rest (MW + R) or a 15-min interval exercise (MW + E). Each visit ended with an ad libitum pizza lunch. A two-way repeated-measures ANOVA was used to compare eating behavior between groups.

Results

Participants in the MW + R condition consumed an average of 100 more kilocalories compared with BR (633.3 ± 72.9 and 533.9 ± 67.7, respectively, P = 0.02), and participants in MW + E consumed an average of 25 kcal less compared with BR (432.3 ± 69.2 and 456.5 ± 64.2, respectively, P > 0.05). When including the estimated energy expenditure of exercise in the MW + E conditions, participants were in negative energy balance by an average of 98.5 ± 41.5 kcal, resulting in a significant difference in energy balance between the two groups (P = 0.001).

Conclusion

An acute bout of interval exercise after mental work resulted in significantly decreased food consumption compared with a nonexercise condition. These results suggest that an acute bout of exercise may be used to offset positive energy balance induced by mental tasks.

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