Restrictions for food which may increase motivation to exercise, according to a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology. The study suggests that a surge in levels of appetite-promoting hormone, ghrelin, after a period of fasting prompted mice to initiate voluntary exercise.
These novel findings indicate that better diet control, for example limiting food intake to mealtimes or fasting intermittently, could help overweight people maintain a more effective exercise routine, lose weight and avoid debilitating complications such as diabetes and heart disease.
Obesity is a costly and growing, global health epidemic that needs more effective intervention strategies to avoid serious complications including heart disease and diabetes. Food restriction and regular exercise are the two main cost-effective strategies to prevent and treat obesity; however the condition is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits, such as snacking and binge eating. Consequently, adhering to a regular exercise regime can be difficult due to an inability to exercise for a prolonged period or a lack of motivation.
Ghrelin, often referred to as the ‘hunger hormone’, stimulates appetite through actions on the brain reward circuitry that increase motivation to eat. It has also been reported to be essential for endurance exercise by increasing metabolism to meet the energy demands of prolonged exercise. Although previous studies have suggested a relationship between ghrelin and exercise, it is not known whether ghrelin levels have a direct effect on motivation to exercise.