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Sidestep Your Afternoon Snack Break

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That three o’clock chocolate bar is a hard office habit to break. Sure, a snack helps keep you focused until the closing bell, but your workday doesn’t have to drive you to a bigger belly. Try taking a short walk with some co-workers when you hear the call of a Hershey’s bar.

A new study in the February 2012 issue of the journal Appetite found that chocolate lovers who walked briskly on a treadmill for 15 minutes subsequently ate far fewer daytime sweets than their more sedentary office co-workers.

“We know that snacking on high-calorie foods, like chocolate, at work can become a mindless habit and can lead to weight gain over time,” the lead researcher, from the United Kingdom’s Exeter University, said in a news release. “We often feel that these snacks help us deal with the stress of our jobs, including boredom. People often find it difficult to cut down on their daily treats but this study shows that by taking a short walk, they are able to regulate their intake by half.”

In fact, non-walkers ate about 29 g of chocolate, while the group that walked ate under 16 g. The study’s authors believe the mechanism revolves around exercise’s impact on feel-good hormones in the brain, such as dopamine. People who are “addicted” to sweets often crave chocolate in an effort to feel a surge in these hormones.

For healthier snack options, check out "10 Energy-Boosting Snacks for the Office."

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Tags: Health, Snacks, Walking, Food, Work