Taking a Different Route After Mental Challenges

Whether you are a college student who has just studied six hours straight for that big midterm or an attorney who has gone over legal brief after legal brief, sometimes the most comforting next step is sitting down with a snack or delicious meal. However, there is evidence that you should really consider exercising to give your mind a break. Read why in the article below:

Could the solution to post-study session cravings be a 15-minute jaunt on the treadmill? According to new research in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, short but strenuous workouts may curb the hunger pangs that tend to follow challenging cognitive tasks.

For anyone who’s ever ordered Domino’s after pouring over a spreadsheet, or wrapping up a complex report, the brain-fried binge is all too familiar. “Mental work utilizes the brain’s energy resources, and the brain then signals that it needs additional energy,” researcher William Neumeier, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), explained in an email to Health. “If food is available, the brain will use it to replenish energy. This could lead to overeating.”

Neumeier and his colleagues suspected that physical activity might counteract that urge to eat: “Exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, can increase available energy in the body’s bloodstream, and promote satiety in the short term,” says Dr. Neumeier. The researchers hypothesized that the brain could replenish its energy deficit from a mentally-taxing chore by utilizing byproducts of exercise—primarily glucose and lactate—and halt cravings for more food.

To test their theory, they offered 38 healthy college students pizza (to see how much they ate under normal circumstances). On another day, they had the participants do 20 minutes of math and reading comprehension problems to tire out their brains. Afterwards, one group rested for 15 minutes while another group did interval training on a treadmill. Then the researchers served a pizza lunch, and tracked how many calories the volunteers consumed.

RELATED: 11 Reasons You’re Always Hungry

The results lined up with what the researchers expected: “Mental work increased food intake by 100 calories, unless there was an intense bout of exercise in between,” study co-author Emily Dhurandar, PhD, an assistant professor in UAB’s Department of Health Behavior, said in an email. “Among those who exercised, there was no increase in food intake resulting from mental work.”

More research is needed to investigate the effects of workouts of varying types, lengths, and intensities. But the current findings might be helpful for workhorses looking to lose a few pounds. “People who find themselves hungry after completing mentally-demanding tasks should consider adding a bout of exercise to their schedule to help curb their appetite,” says Dhurandar.

So next time you finish a big item on your to-do list, try reaching for your running shoes before a bag of chips, and you may leave your cravings in the dust.

Source: http://www.health.com/fitness/exercise-curbs-cravings

Pros and Cons of Exercising in Different Environments

Exercising is sometimes the last thing we want to spend our time doing. But if you are in the right setting it can be a little more tolerable. Some prefer only working out at a gym while others go for a run through their neighborhood every morning. There are pros and cons to both indoor and outdoor workouts that this article points out very clearly. If you haven’t been able to decide where you like to exercise most, this might help you do that.

This time of year, debating between hitting the gym and kicking it outside can be as tricky as choosing between hot or iced coffee. Here to make your life easier? Research. Check out the perks and pitfalls of both, so you can get exactly what you want from your workout.

INDOORS

  • Perk: More Intensity. Without natural distractions that are annoying (gah, wind) or cool (what a view!), you can laser-focus on your routine, allowing you to maintain your level of ferocity.
  • Perk: Better Results. Increased intensity brings greater physiological changes, as in more fat loss and a stronger cardiovascular system.
  • Pitfall: Are We Done Yet? There’s not much stimulation to keep you motivated on the treadmill—though endorphins, in any setting, do help. (Beat workout boredom with Women’s Health’s Ignite routine by 2015 Next Fitness Star Nikki Metzger!) 

OUTDOORS

  • Perk: Reduced Stress. Studies show people have less anxiety after exercising alfresco. Green spaces are inherently calming, giving your antsy mind a rest.
  • Perk: Stick-to-it-iveness. That soothing feeling? It’s pretty addictive. If you’re starting a new program, begin outside to lock down the habit—then take it indoors when temps plummet.
  • Pitfall: Ugh, Rain. You have to prepare yourself for unexpected variables that may cramp your game. Not ideal if you’re training for speed.

Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/indoor-vs-outdoor-exercise