Studies Show Physical Activity After Mental Studies Prevents Overeating

A new study shows that strenuous mental work can lead to overeating.  When we engage our brains in mentally challenging tasks, the brain localizes glucose/glycogen accessibility.  As a result, we feel hungry and have a chance of eating more after strenuous mental work.  However, exercising after mental studies can provide the brain with lactate and glucose.  This ultimately suppresses that hunger by providing the brain with extra “fuel”, so to speak. 

In this study, one group of participants (MWR) was given a 20-minute mentally challenging task followed by 15-minutes of rest.  Afterward, this group of participants was offered pizza (the participants were unaware that their consumption of the food was being monitored).

The other group of participants (MWE) were also given a 20-minute mentally challenging task but instead of resting for 15-minutes after, this group of participants exercised for that 15-minutes.  These participants were then offered pizza as well.

When the experiment was over, the study was proven.  Participants from the group MWE had consumed less pizza than the participants from group MWR by about 25 kcal (estimated).  The group of participants that had exercised after completing the mentally challenging tasks had consumed less food.  

These findings suggest that exercising after mental activity lowers the need for more energy intake.  After performing mental work, group MWR consumed more calories resulting in the participants having a positive energy balance.  Group MWE, on the other hand, did not feel the need to consume as much energy intake when exercising after studying which resulted in group MWE having a negative energy balance.

SSMI: I love prescribing exercise to many populations.  One in particular are those who are engaged in heavy mental tasks such as students, or professionals preparing for a talk, meeting, case, etc.  Break up the sessions with short Hi or Low intensity exercise sessions.  Consider the mental work as an additional workout cog in the wheel of the whole workout.  

Example (create your own variation):

Mental Work: 20 minutes

Walk 100 steps

20 pushups

1 minute plank and 30 second side planks

25 crunches

10 lunges

10 full body squats


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References:  Neuhmeier, William, Emily Goodner, Fred Biasini, Emily Dhurandhar, Kristi Menear, Bulent Turan, and Gary Hunter. "Result Filters." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.