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What Exercise is Best for Appetite Suppression?

A study published online in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology found that vigorous treadmill exercise may positively affect appetite hormones and suppress hunger.

For the study, 11 healthy male students participated in three different exercise sessions. Each session included a workout and rest period that totaled eight hours.

In the first session, participants ran on a treadmill for 60 minutes and rested for seven hours. In the second, they lifted weights for 90 minutes then rested for 6.5 hours.  Finally, participants simply rested for the entire eight hour session.

At various points during each session, participants were asked to rate their level of hunger on a scale of 1-15.  At the same time, two major appetite hormones - ghrelin (which stimulates appetite) and peptide YY (which suppresses appetite) - were measured.

The researchers, from Loughborough University in the UK, found that participants reported the lowest levels of hunger during and immediately after the treadmill exercise.

They also found lower levels of ghrelin hormone and higher levels of peptide YY during and after the treadmill exercise, which seemed to support the self hunger ratings given by participants.  Weight lifting was also found to suppress hunger, but to a lesser extent than the treadmill.

The researchers note that these findings may serve to help develop more effective exercise regimens for weight loss.  The results are also particularly important for men, as they tend to do more weight lifting and less aerobic exercises. 

In addition to appetite suppression, research has shown that aerobic exercise (an exercise that increases heart rate and endurance) may improve memory, attention, and cognitive abilities as well as lower the risk of obesity, heart disease and certain cancers.

While this study analyzed relatively long exercise periods (an hour on the treadmill or 1.5 hours lifting weights), you don't necessarily have to invest a lot of time to see positive health benefits from exercise. Walking for 30 minutes a day, stretching for a few minutes when you get up each morning and playing with children or grandchildren can all have a significant impact on overall health.

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