Exercise is All in Your Mind, And Your Mind Can Ruin Your Workout

Working out can sometimes make you think you deserve a little something that’s dripping with calories but you’re wrong.

According to NPR, a new study from Cornell Food and Brand Lab shows that people who perceived themselves to exercise vigorously also ate vigorously afterward because their brain was all, ‘You deserve it!’ Research also found that these people were more likely to indulge in empty calories, which may lead to weight gain instead of weight loss if it is not done in moderation.

The brain is trixy like that.


Brian Wansink, a professor of marketing, and his team followed two groups of people at a research camp; both groups were told they were taking the scenic route but only one was treated as if they were getting a “real workout.” Their walking guide pushed them to “go the distance” by calling out things like “Half-mile to go!” Once the "workout" group arrived, they ate 35 percent more chocolate pudding at lunch than the other walking group. Wansink points out that it wasn't even good pudding.

He also found that the empty calorie eaters ate more desserts, but not more salad or vegetables. In addition, he found those who walked while listening to music instead of focusing on the exercise ate less sweets.

The takeaway? Convince yourself that exercise is fun or relaxing — maybe by picking an activity you actually like — just don’t think of it as work or you might be looking for self-defeating snacks afterward. And if you do, why'd you bother sweating in the first place?

Image via Getty.