How does exercise improve eating habits?

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Powerful ways exercise improves eating habits

Very likely, there are no (or at least very few) people who would refute that exercise benefits health.  Everyone benefits from regular, consistent exercise, regardless of age, sex, or physical ability.

In case anyone needs a reminder of what exactly the benefits of exercise are, here are a few examples:

·      It controls weight

·      It decreases risk of several health conditions and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure

·      It improves mood

·      It provides a boost of energy

·      It promotes better sleep

·      It can put the spark back into your sex life

·      It can be fun and enjoyable

As you can see, exercise has a boatload of health benefits.  However, there is one more benefit not often added on a list of the ways exercise improves health – Exercise improves eating habits.

How does exercise improve eating habits?

Not everyone may agree that engaging in regular exercise automatically will make you eat healthier.  And sometimes that is true.  But, generally, if a person is taking the time to break a sweat by working out in order to get fit and toned, a big part of that equation includes food choices. If a person ignores that part by eating whatever and as much as they want, their exercise efforts make little sense.  Yes, exercise does burn calories but it is not necessarily a green light to make poor food decisions and still expect to be a physically fit person. 

Let’s take a look at three ways in which exercise (if you let it) can improve your eating habits:

1. Exercise means less downtime

The more time you spend working out, the less time there is to use food as a way to pass the time.  Downtime can be dangerous.  Downtime can lead to boredom which can lead you straight into your kitchen looking for food to snack on.  Too much downtime can also result in increasing sedentary activity.  Having little to do might result in watching favorite movies for hours with snacks in hand.  Use downtime instead to get in extra exercise such as a long walk or a hike on a nature trail.

2. Exercise reduces mindless snacking

Working out on a full stomach is no fun.  If exercise is a priority in your life, then the timing of meals and snacks also become important.  The temptation to binge on the office candy jar lessens as you focus on the fact that you would rather not suffer through your workout. This mindset naturally reduces extra calories that you would have casually eaten if you were not anticipating working out later on.

2. Exercise inspires you to eat healthier

The saying “mind over matter” really is a powerful tool. When you embrace that mantra, you can accomplish just about anything you want. This same tool appears to also be linked to physical exercise and making better food choices.  Studies have shown that exercise can lead to neurogenesis – the creation of new brain cells – which can lead to increased willpower. Results from this research suggests that regular exercise of at least six months, actually changes your brain to respond to food cues less often.  So instead of being tempted to buy a bacon double cheeseburger loaded with calories and unhealthy fat, you opt instead for grilled salmon and a leafy green salad loaded with health-promoting antioxidants, phytochemicals and healthy fat.  It just makes sense to not waste the time exercising to only eat unhealthy.