This post comes from the field of behavioral economics. Many people exercise as part of their weight loss journey. Yet despite burning hundreds of calories, they can’t seem to shed the pounds. One assumption is that after exercise, people feel a need to compensate for their effort, and as a result they overeat. Scientists from The US and France decided to conduct an experiment to investigate.
A group of overweight women was randomly divided into two groups. Both groups were instructed to go for a 30 minute walk. After the walk, they had lunch. One group consumed more soda and dessert than the other.
What was the difference between the two groups?
- Group A was instructed told to exercise for 30 minutes by walking and to monitor their effort.
- Group B was told to have a fun 30 minute scenic stroll and listen to music.
Apparently, the framing of physical activity shaped the perceived need for a reward in the form of extra calories. What is the takeaway for dieters? If you view your exercise as a form of torture and punishment that needs to be slogged through to lose weight, there is a good chance you will compensate by consuming more calories than you should. But if you choose an exercise that you can actually enjoy and have fun doing, you won’t need the extra calories.