A study published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology revealed the affect exercise has on regions of the brain associated with food reward. Researchers tested healthy young men and women who are habitually active by testing their reactions to food cues after exercise or after rest.
Exercise lowered participants’ reactions to both high-energy and low-energy food. The findings suggest exercise reduces pleasure of food, incentive motivation to eat, and anticipation and consumption of food when compared to responses at rest. A separate University of Colorado study of obese participants in an exercise program saw a similar result, with chronic exercise showing a reduction in the response of visual food cues.