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A new study explains why some people eat junk food after a workout


A new study shows that thinking about your workout as "exercise," rather than fun, might be causing you to eat junk food.
(Photo: We Heart It)
Feeling like you “have to” go to the gym doesn’t do your body any favors, says new research. You get more results when you think of your workout as fun, like hiking with a pal.  (Photo: We Heart It)

Love your sweat sesh—and it will love you back.

A recent study by Marketing Letters, highlighted in the New York Times, found that if you view your workout as fun, rather than “exercise” you might be inspired to eat better (and therefore consume fewer calories).

The study was based on a small group of 56 women—half were told to view a one-mile course as exercise and the other half were told to just go and enjoy it. Afterward, the group that thought about it as exercise was much more likely to reach for junk food, consuming far more calories than the other group.

Food is not used as a post-workout reward, the study implies, when fitness itself is rewarding and fun. This explains why some people reach for a slice of watermelon after a spin class and others a slice of pizza.

Fortunately, we’re in a era where it’s easier to have a fitness love affair with an inspiring workout. And it sheds new light on the social features launched by fitness studios, such as Cyc Fitness and Flywheel that help you find friends in your class—making it super easy to look forward to a sweat sesh.

It’s also become common to refer to a workout by the studio name, “Soul” or “Barry’s,” rather than calling it “exercise.” Proving the theory that working out isn’t the devil, but calling it that might be… —Molly Gallagher