Research suggests short and frequent exercise key to feeling full

June 13, 2013

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Short bouts of intermittent exercise throughout the day may be better than one vigorous workout in convincing your brain that you are full.

The insight comes from a study done by Murdoch University and a group of American collaborators investigating how the appetite-regulating hormone Peptide YY (PYY) fluctuates with intermittent or continuous exercise.

While the study didn’t note any difference in PYY levels when comparing the two forms of exercise, researchers did find participants who did shorter bursts more regularly reported feeling up to 32 per cent fuller.

“Despite no changes in the hormonal responses, intermittent exercise was more effective in reducing the perception of hunger as the day progressed compared to being sedentary or exercising vigorously,” said Dr Tim Fairchild of Murdoch’s School of Psychology and Exercise Science.

“Previous research has shown exercise’s role in increasing concentrations of appetite-regulating hormones, in particular PYY’s role in promoting tighter appetite control, but those studies concentrated on the first few hours after exercise.

“Ours is the first study to look at effects across a full day.”

The study compared participants who did no exercise, those who did a one-hour morning exercise session and those who did five-minute bouts of exercise throughout the day.

Those who did the intermittent sessions felt 32.3 per cent more satiated between one and three pm and 26.9 per cent more full between three and five pm.

“While PYY concentrations weren’t different, those who did shorter bursts of exercise had lower perceived hunger and increased satiety in the mid-afternoon hours,” Dr Fairchild said.

“There is some evidence of an accumulative effect of exercise, even if it doesn’t impact hormone levels.”

Dr Fairchild said a regime of shorter exercise sessions presented a promising alternative for weight maintenance and weight loss.

The study was done in conjunction with researchers from Syracuse University (NY), Slippery Rock University (Pennsylvania), SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse (NY) and the University of Missouri. It can be found here.

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