Hitting the gym for better weight control? Try thinking about it as “fun and pleasurable” and not “exercise” for best results.
In an intriguing series of two separate experiments, researchers from Cornell’s famed Food and Brand Lab found that we eat significantly more after physical activity perceived as “exercise” vs. the same activity perceived as “a pleasurable pastime”. In the first experiment, 56 adults were led on a 2 km walk around a lake and were told the activity was either for “exercise” or to enjoy the natural scenery.
Afterwards, they were all served lunch. The walkers who believed they were moving for exercise ate 35% more chocolate pudding for dessert vs. those who believed they were on a scenic stroll. In the second experiment, 46 adults were offered a mid-afternoon snack of M&Ms after the same 2 km walk. Those thinking they walked for “exercise” ate 206 additional calories of M&Ms (124% more!) than the group that walked for scenic beauty. These results likely explain why most people that take up “exercise” for weight loss often fail and drives home the importance of moving for the pleasure and vitality it can give you vs. for “burning calories”.