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New research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab says that those who "think fun" while exercising are likely to eat less afterwards than those who exercise simply for the end result of weight loss.
In the quest to prove that one must enjoy the journey, not just the destination, researchers led 56 adults on what they told them would be a "scenic walk" or, in the case of the control group, an "exercise walk," and provided lunch afterwards.
Walkers who had been told to consider it exercise ate 35 percent more chocolate pudding.
In a second round of tests, they provided mid-afternoon snacks to a total of 46 walkers upon their return from either an exercise walk or a scenic walk.
The exercise walkers ate 124 percent more M&Ms than the scenic walkers.
"Viewing their walk as exercise led them to be less happy and more fatigued," says lead author, Carolina Werle, professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France.
Despite some studies that say exercising reduces appetite, many dieters say exercise increases their appetite, hindering weight loss and in many cases leading to weight gain beyond normal muscle accumulation.
The release of the Cornell study, which was published in the journal Marketing Letters, is perfectly timed with the announcement of an algorithm developed by researchers at Yahoo that gives new meaning to taking the scenic route home.
Rather than finding the shortest route, the GPS algorithm finds the most beautiful.
Developed by Daniele Quercia of Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, the algorithm acts on data taken from Google Street View and Geograph that Quercia and his team compiled according to subjective opinions of participants who ranked landmarks using the site urbangems.org.
Quercia's study was published in the Cornell University Library and his next plan is to build and test an app using the algorithm.
Although his team reports that the scenic routes are only about 12 percent longer than the fastest, on average, it's the enjoyment that counts in every way.
"Do whatever you can to make your workout fun," says Brian Wansink, author and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. "Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you're working out instead of working in the office."
In the midst of the wearable fitness tracker craze, many users find enjoyment in quantifying their daily workouts, reporting increased motivation.
"Anything that brings a smile, is likely to get you to eat less," says Wansink.