There's good news for chocolate lovers today after new research suggests just 15 minutes of walking a day could stave off sweet cravings.
A new study has claimed for the very first time that exercise actually reduces our food cravings after scientists at Exeter University discovered a brisk walk of just 15 minutes can lower our urge to scoff chocolate treats and sweets.
The study followed 25 regular chocolate eaters, who abstained for three days and then went for a brisk 15-minute walk. The volunteers then undertook tasks that might encourage chocolate cravings, such as a mental challenge and opening a chocolate bar.
Participants admitted their cravings for chocolate dropped after exercise.
Lead researcher Professor Adrian Taylor commented: 'Our ongoing work consistently shows that brief bouts of physical activity reduce cigarette cravings, but this is the first study to link exercise to reduced chocolate cravings.'
He added: 'Neuroscientists have suggested common processes in the reward centres of the brain between drug and food addictions, and it may be that exercise effects brain chemicals that help to regulate mood and cravings.'
Prof Taylor spelt out the merits this could mean for those struggling to fight their hankering for guilty chocolate treats and lose weight.
'While enjoying the occasional chocolate bar is fine, in time, regular eating may lead to stronger cravings during stress and when it is readily available,' said Prof Taylor.
He added: 'Recognising what causes us to eat high energy snacks, even if we have plans to not do so, can be helpful. Short bouts of physical activity can help to regulate how energised and pleasant we feel.'