Why Exercise?

The goal of the Handout is to educate food addicts about the benefits of exercise. It is
important that food addicts cease exercising to ‘burn calories’ as this has been shown to promote
overeating. Instead, food addicts can be motivated to exercise to improve brain health and

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    1. For food addicts, it’s good to know that there is a strong body of research showing that exercise can reduce cravings and hunger (Cornier, Melanson, Salzberg, Bechtell, & Tregellas, 2012; Evero, Hackett, Clark, Phelan, & Hagobian, 2012; Killgore, Kipman, et al., 2013; McFadden, Cornier, Melanson, Bechtell, & Tregellas, 2013; Oh & Taylor, 2012, 2013).
    2. There is also evidence that exercise can improve sleep (Kline et al., 2013).
    3. Exercise can even reduce stressful illness (Holmes, 2006).
    4. Create activities away from cueing television and kitchen (Manios et al., 2009)
      1. Reduce isolation (Goldfield, Adamo, Rutherford, & Murray, 2012)
      2. Improve identification with normal eaters 
    5. Another important function of exercise is to improve cognitive functions. This makes it easier to make good decisions about abstinent foods and cue-avoidance (Annesi & Tennant, 2013; Goldfield et al., 2012; Killgore, Olson, & Weber, 2013).
    6. Food addicts often suffer from issued related to being able to move around easily. Exercise can improve mobility as a result of improved muscle, joint, bone, heart, and asthma conditions. Exercise also provides an alternative to watching television. (Earnest, Blair, & Church, 2010; Knobf, Insogna, DiPietro, Fennie, & Thompson, 2008; Manini et al., 2010; McAuley et al., 2009; O'Donovan et al., 2005; O'Keefe, Gheewala, & O'Keefe, 2008)
    7. A great benefit of exercise can be to improve and stabilize mood and self-esteem. This can reduce stress and eating triggered by emotions (Goldfield et al., 2012; Jerstad, Boutelle, Ness, & Stice, 2010).
    8. Exercise also helps our own body chemistry to work better.  It can reduce production of consumption-stimulating peptides such as insulin (Earnest, Poirier, Carnethon, Blair, & Church, 2010; Goularte, Ferreira, & Sanvitto, 2012)
    9. Believe it or not, exercise also favorably impacts DNA and cell function. It has been shown to repair DNA which then avoids passing obesity on to children genetically.  This can help overcome genetic predispositions to obesity (Mitchell et al., 2010) Exercise and even help repair mitochondrial function in the cell. The mitochondria produces the energy that the cell needs to function (Konopka et al., 2015; Voisin, Eynon, Yan, & Bishop, 2015).

 Barriers to exercise in food addicts 

    1. Negative associations (Jackson, Gao, & Chen, 2013)
    2. Fatigue (Landis, Parker, & Dunbar, 2009)
    3. Loneliness, time (Kruger, Blanck, & Gillespie, 2006)
    4. Joint pain and damage 
    5. Muscle atrophy (Bayol, Macharia, Farrington, Simbi, & Stickland, 2009)
    6. Depression
    7. Safety
    8. Unhealthy gym environments
      • Exposure to processed foods
      • Exposure to body obsession
      • Amateur coaches with harmful expectations
      • Amateur trainers making harmful nutrition recommendations
    9. Trigger to body obsession and weight loss obsession
      • Weight gain from muscle mass



    1. Food addicts would benefit from knowing about the advantages of walking vs other forms of exercise (Oh & Taylor, 2013)  There is no cost to walking. It’s easy to access. And walking can be adapted to pace, available time, and difficulty. 
    2. It is important to adjust exercise to progress (Hill, 2009)
    3. It is also help to refrain from weighing to reduce loss of confidence due to weight gain from muscle development.
    4. People seem to do better when they exercise in groups (Cowart et al., 2010; Goldfinger, Arniella, Wylie-Rosett, & Horowitz, 2008; Sbrocco et al., 2005)
    5. At the same time, food addicts should be conscious of avoiding the development of exercise addiction (Fuqua & Rogol, 2013; Mathes et al., 2010; Mussap, 2007)
    6. Education about exercise is helpful in motivating people to exercise. (Slater et al., 2010)
    7. It is wise to situate exercise in the context of lifestyle (Stice, Presnell, Shaw, & Rohde, 2005; Wing & Phelan, 2005).


Annesi, J. J., & Tennant, G. A. (2013). Mediation of social cognitive theory variables in the relationship of exercise and improved eating in sedentary adults with severe obesity. Psychol Health Med, 18(6), 714-724. doi:10.1080/13548506.2013.766354

Bayol, S. A., Macharia, R., Farrington, S. J., Simbi, B. H., & Stickland, N. C. (2009). Evidence that a maternal "junk food" diet during pregnancy and lactation can reduce muscle force in offspring. Eur J Nutr, 48(1), 62-65. doi:10.1007/s00394-008-0760-5

Cornier, M. A., Melanson, E. L., Salzberg, A. K., Bechtell, J. L., & Tregellas, J. R. (2012). The effects of exercise on the neuronal response to food cues. Physiol Behav, 105(4), 1028-1034. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.11.023

Cowart, L. W., Biro, D. J., Wasserman, T., Stein, R. F., Reider, L. R., & Brown, B. (2010). Designing and pilot-testing a church-based community program to reduce obesity among African Americans. ABNF J, 21(1), 4-10. 

Earnest, C. P., Blair, S. N., & Church, T. S. (2010). Age attenuated response to aerobic conditioning in postmenopausal women. Eur J Appl Physiol, 110(1), 75-82. doi:10.1007/s00421-010-1472-0

Earnest, C. P., Poirier, P., Carnethon, M. R., Blair, S. N., & Church, T. S. (2010). Autonomic function and change in insulin for exercising postmenopausal women. Maturitas, 65(3), 284-291. doi:S0378-5122(09)00446-0 [pii]


Evero, N., Hackett, L. C., Clark, R. D., Phelan, S., & Hagobian, T. A. (2012). Aerobic exercise reduces neuronal responses in food reward brain regions. J Appl Physiol (1985), 112(9), 1612-1619. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01365.2011

Fuqua, J. S., & Rogol, A. D. (2013). Neuroendocrine alterations in the exercising human: implications for energy homeostasis. Metabolism, 62(7), 911-921. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2013.01.016

Goldfield, G. S., Adamo, K. B., Rutherford, J., & Murray, M. (2012). The effects of aerobic exercise on psychosocial functioning of adolescents who are overweight or obese. J Pediatr Psychol, 37(10), 1136-1147. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jss084

Goldfinger, J. Z., Arniella, G., Wylie-Rosett, J., & Horowitz, C. R. (2008). Project HEAL: peer education leads to weight loss in Harlem. J Health Care Poor Underserved, 19(1), 180-192. doi:S1548686908101802 [pii]


Goularte, J. F., Ferreira, M. B., & Sanvitto, G. L. (2012). Effects of food pattern change and physical exercise on cafeteria diet-induced obesity in female rats. Br J Nutr, 108(8), 1511-1518. doi:10.1017/s0007114511006933

Hill, J. O. (2009). Can a small-changes approach help address the obesity epidemic? A report of the Joint Task Force of the American Society for Nutrition, Institute of Food Technologists, and International Food Information Council. Am J Clin Nutr, 89(2), 477-484. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26566

Holmes, S. (2006). Nutrition and the prevention of cancer. J Fam Health Care, 16(2), 43-46. 

Jackson, T., Gao, X., & Chen, H. (2013). Differences in neural activation to depictions of physical exercise and sedentary activity: an fMRI study of overweight and lean Chinese women. Int J Obes (Lond). doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.245

Jerstad, S. J., Boutelle, K. N., Ness, K. K., & Stice, E. (2010). Prospective reciprocal relations between physical activity and depression in female adolescents. J Consult Clin Psychol, 78(2), 268-272. doi:2010-05835-013 [pii]


Killgore, W. D., Kipman, M., Schwab, Z. J., Tkachenko, O., Preer, L., Gogel, H., . . . Weber, M. (2013). Physical exercise and brain responses to images of high-calorie food. Neuroreport, 24(17), 962-967. doi:10.1097/WNR.0000000000000029

Killgore, W. D., Olson, E. A., & Weber, M. (2013). Physical exercise habits correlate with gray matter volume of the hippocampus in healthy adult humans. Sci Rep, 3, 3457. doi:10.1038/srep03457

Kline, C. E., Irish, L. A., Krafty, R. T., Sternfeld, B., Kravitz, H. M., Buysse, D. J., . . . Hall, M. H. (2013). Consistently high sports/exercise activity is associated with better sleep quality, continuity and depth in midlife women: the SWAN sleep study. Sleep, 36(9), 1279-1288. doi:10.5665/sleep.2946

Knobf, M. T., Insogna, K., DiPietro, L., Fennie, C., & Thompson, A. S. (2008). An aerobic weight-loaded pilot exercise intervention for breast cancer survivors: bone remodeling and body composition outcomes. Biol Res Nurs, 10(1), 34-43. 

Konopka, A. R., Asante, A., Lanza, I. R., Robinson, M. M., Johnson, M. L., Man, C. D., . . . Nair, K. S. (2015). Defects in mitochondrial efficiency and H2O2 emissions in obese women are restored to a lean phenotype with aerobic exercise training. Diabetes. doi:10.2337/db14-1701

Kruger, J., Blanck, H. M., & Gillespie, C. (2006). Dietary and physical activity behaviors among adults successful at weight loss maintenance. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 3, 17. doi:1479-5868-3-17 [pii]


Landis, A. M., Parker, K. P., & Dunbar, S. B. (2009). Sleep, hunger, satiety, food cravings, and caloric intake in adolescents. J Nurs Scholarsh, 41(2), 115-123. doi:JNU1262 [pii]


Manini, T. M., Newman, A. B., Fielding, R., Blair, S. N., Perri, M. G., Anton, S. D., . . . Pahor, M. (2010). Effects of exercise on mobility in obese and nonobese older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring), 18(6), 1168-1175. doi:oby2009317 [pii]


Manios, Y., Kourlaba, G., Kondaki, K., Grammatikaki, E., Anastasiadou, A., & Roma-Giannikou, E. (2009). Obesity and television watching in preschoolers in Greece: the GENESIS study. Obesity (Silver Spring), 17(11), 2047-2053. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.50

Mathes, W. F., Nehrenberg, D. L., Gordon, R., Hua, K., Garland, T., Jr., & Pomp, D. (2010). Dopaminergic dysregulation in mice selectively bred for excessive exercise or obesity. Behav Brain Res, 210(2), 155-163. doi:S0166-4328(10)00116-6 [pii]

10.1016/j.bbr.2010.02.016 [doi]

McAuley, P. A., Sui, X., Church, T. S., Hardin, J. W., Myers, J. N., & Blair, S. N. (2009). The joint effects of cardiorespiratory fitness and adiposity on mortality risk in men with hypertension. Am J Hypertens, 22(10), 1062-1069. doi:ajh2009122 [pii]


McFadden, K. L., Cornier, M. A., Melanson, E. L., Bechtell, J. L., & Tregellas, J. R. (2013). Effects of exercise on resting-state default mode and salience network activity in overweight/obese adults. Neuroreport, 24(15), 866-871. doi:10.1097/wnr.0000000000000013

Mitchell, J. A., Church, T. S., Rankinen, T., Earnest, C. P., Sui, X., & Blair, S. N. (2010). FTO genotype and the weight loss benefits of moderate intensity exercise. Obesity (Silver Spring), 18(3), 641-643. doi:oby2009311 [pii]


Mussap, A. J. (2007). Motivational processes associated with unhealthy body change attitudes and behaviours. Eat Behav, 8(3), 423-428. 

O'Donovan, G., Owen, A., Kearney, E. M., Jones, D. W., Nevill, A. M., Woolf-May, K., & Bird, S. R. (2005). Cardiovascular disease risk factors in habitual exercisers, lean sedentary men and abdominally obese sedentary men. Int J Obes (Lond), 29(9), 1063-1069. doi:0803004 [pii]


O'Keefe, J. H., Gheewala, N. M., & O'Keefe, J. O. (2008). Dietary strategies for improving post-prandial glucose, lipids, inflammation, and cardiovascular health. J Am Coll Cardiol, 51(3), 249-255. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2007.10.016

Oh, H., & Taylor, A. H. (2012). Brisk walking reduces ad libitum snacking in regular chocolate eaters during a workplace simulation. Appetite, 58(1), 387-392. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.11.006

Oh, H., & Taylor, A. H. (2013). A brisk walk, compared with being sedentary, reduces attentional bias and chocolate cravings among regular chocolate eaters with different body mass. Appetite, 71, 144-149. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2013.07.015

Sbrocco, T., Carter, M. M., Lewis, E. L., Vaughn, N. A., Kalupa, K. L., King, S., . . . Cintron, J. A. (2005). Church-based obesity treatment for African-American women improves adherence. Ethn Dis, 15(2), 246-255. 

Slater, A., Bowen, J., Corsini, N., Gardner, C., Golley, R., & Noakes, M. (2010). Understanding parent concerns about children's diet, activity and weight status: an important step towards effective obesity prevention interventions. Public Health Nutr, 13(8), 1221-1228. doi:S1368980009992096 [pii]


Stice, E., Presnell, K., Shaw, H., & Rohde, P. (2005). Psychological and behavioral risk factors for obesity onset in adolescent girls: a prospective study. J Consult Clin Psychol, 73(2), 195-202. doi:2005-02854-001 [pii]


Voisin, S., Eynon, N., Yan, X., & Bishop, D. J. (2015). Exercise training and DNA methylation in humans. Acta Physiol (Oxf), 213(1), 39-59. doi:10.1111/apha.12414

Wing, R. R., & Phelan, S. (2005). Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr, 82(1 Suppl), 222S-225S. doi:82/1/222S [pii]


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