Washington: Thinking about a workout makes you eat 50 per cent more food.
Researchers link it with a subconscious reward theory, which suggests that when physical or mental effort is spent on exercising, we reward ourselves by eating more.
"Just imagining exercising leads participants to serve themselves more food," said Brian Wansink of Cornell University in the US who led the study.
Two groups were asked to read a scenario describing a 30-minute walk during which they were listening to music or focused on exercising and how tired they felt. The third, a control group, did neither, a newspaper reports.
Then the people, who did not know the study`s purpose, were offered food from bowls of sweet or salty snacks as a reward for their time, according to a Cornell statement.
Those who read about exercising ate 58.9 per cent more sweet snacks and 51.9 per cent more salty snacks than the control group.
Those asked to focus on the reading ate the most - 701 calories each compared with 361 for the control group. Those who listened to music as they `walked` consumed 616 calories.
Researchers say that while exercising and a balanced diet are the basis of most obesity-prevention campaigns, little research has been done on how physical exercise may increase food consumption.