The effect of antecedent exercise on the acute stress response and subsequent food consumption: a preliminary investigation

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Abstract

Physical activity has been shown to be protective against many of the deleterious consequences of stress; however, the effects of exercise on stress-induced food consumption are unclear. This study examined the effect of an acute bout of exercise prior to exposure to an acute stressor on subsequent eating behavior, together with the physiological (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, salivary cortisol) and psychological (e.g., mood, perceived stress) responses to stress. Twenty-three men and women completed four experimental conditions (control, exercise only, stress only, and exercise prior to stress) conducted in a counterbalanced order using a within-subjects repeated measures design. Ad libitum energy intake from a laboratory test meal was assessed at each trial, together with monitoring of physiological and psychological responses. No difference in total energy intake (p = 0.146) or energy intake from 'unhealthy' foods was noted between conditions (p = 0.783), despite lower circulating ghrelin when antecedent exercise was performed compared with stress alone (p < 0.05). Exposure to an acute stressor is not necessarily associated with alterations in subsequent food intake, nor does antecedent exercise prior to stress exposure affect food choices, despite transient alterations in the hunger hormone ghrelin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113256
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Volume229
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

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