If you enjoy your workout, you’ll eat less—and eat healthier—after it, says a new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study.
In one test, subjects who were told their mile walk was “exercise” later ate 35% more dessert than those told the walk was just a chance to listen to music. In another study, walkers told they were “working out” ate twice as many M&Ms later as those told they were on a scenic stroll. And in a post-marathon study, happy runners ate healthier than bummed-out runners.
“It’s called compensation,” says Cornell’s Brian Wansink, Ph.D. “When you do something you don’t want to do, you find a way to ‘reward’ yourself. We say, don’t look at working out as exercise. Call it a break from work or from stressful thoughts. People who do that report they’re a lot happier.”