15 Minutes of Walking Cuts Chocolate Cravings by 50%, Study Says

Written by Krista Bugden

July 12, 2023

Do you crave chocolate, especially after a long and stressful day? 

While a few squares of chocolate won’t hinder your health or weight loss goals, persistent chocolate cravings that drive you to overeat likely will (1). But a 2011 study demonstrates that walking for just 15 minutes can cut chocolate cravings in half (2).

In this article, we’re going to dig into why this is the case, what chocolate cravings really mean, and the importance of walking each day.

What Should I Eat If I Crave Chocolate?

This might surprise you…But having a square or two of dark chocolate each day, as part of a healthy diet, is beneficial to overall health. So if you’re craving chocolate, having dark chocolate (70% or higher) isn’t the worst idea. In fact, dark chocolate can help improve memory, protect against heart disease and dementia, and reduce inflammation (3, 4).

So, what’s the problem? Well, chocolate cravings may lead to increased caloric intake. And this can lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. 

On top of this, increased chocolate intake may lead to the overconsumption of sugar which can have negative impacts on both the body and mind (5, 6).

What Deficiency Causes Chocolate Cravings?

It’s thought that since dark chocolate is an excellent source of magnesium, deficiencies in this mineral can lead to increased chocolate cravings (7). This means that getting enough magnesium in your diet might be key.

However, keeping chocolate cravings at bay might simply come down to walking more.

How to Curb Chocolate Cravings

Even in stressful situations, a short walk can help reduce chocolate cravings by 50%. In fact, researchers went even further, stating that office workers could be deterred from snacking by taking regular, short walking breaks away from their desks (2).

But…how does this work? Why do short walking breaks help quench cravings? The truth is, it doesn’t have to just be a short walk. Any physical activity that slightly elevates your heart rate and breathing rate stimulates your body to release endorphins (those feel-good chemicals) that help turn cravings “off.” Most often, cravings are driven by our brain’s reward system. This system strives to balance stress with our feel-good hormones, which can often easily be stimulated by eating chocolate or other similar foods.

Mobility pioneer and author of Built to Move, Juliet Starrett, agrees. She explains that, “the research is becoming clear that the difference between people who have a lifetime of challenge with their weight versus a lifetime of controlled weight isn’t that one-hour session in the gym, but that total movement” (8).

So for those looking to lose weight, a regular gym routine is only one part of the exercise equation. The other piece: short walks throughout the day. “Walking is the most underrated practice,” says Juliet’s husband Kelly Starrett. And the best part? It’s free.

The Benefits of Daily Walks

Walking has positive impacts on the body and mind, contributing to graceful aging, supporting healthy weight loss and maintenance, and contributing to overall good health. Here are six of the top benefits you should know about.

1. Improves Cardiovascular Health

Walking at a brisk pace gets your heart rate up, working the most important muscle in the body: your heart. In fact, studies show that just 11 minutes of brisk walking each day is enough to reduce early death caused by heart disease or stroke (9).

2. Enhances Bone Health

Post-menopause, many women face the unfortunate diagnosis of osteoporosis, a condition categorized by low bone density. Yet, research indicates walking for 30 minutes three times a week is enough to combat bone density loss and improve bone health (10).

3. Contributes to Healthy Weight Loss and Maintenance

Walking increases daily energy expenditure, which can contribute to healthy weight loss or easier weight maintenance (11). Walking may also help preserve or increase lean muscle mass, which also enhances total daily energy expenditure (12).

4. Improves Mood and Reduces Stress

Regular walking stimulates endorphins, which make us feel good and can help reduce stress. Studies further demonstrate how walking, when compared to inactivity, has mood-boosting effects (13).

5. Increases Energy Levels

Feeling tired or sluggish? A quick walk might help get you out of your funk. A 2015 study demonstrated how an eight-week walking program improved fatigue and energy levels among employees in the hi-tech industry. At the end of the eight weeks, the employees reported high energy levels, lower fatigue, greater motivation, and improved attention (14).

6. Slows Down the Effects of Aging

A study conducted using 400,000 adults showed that regular brisk walking may slow down biological aging and even enhance one’s life expectancy (15). Now that’s powerful.

Getting Started

Ready to kick those chocolate cravings to the curb and enhance your overall health in the process? Developing a daily walking habit is the way to go.

Plus, it’s ultra simple: just start walking. Try going for a walk around the block each day. Once this becomes a habit, try to gradually increase it to 15 minutes. If you work at a desk, take regular breaks every hour or two to walk around the office. 

Eventually, you might even want to add weight, such as a heavy backpack, while you walk. This loads the joints and muscles slightly differently and offers a new challenge. Walking up or down hills and on uneven surfaces also has substantial benefits, such as improving balance and coordination.

A good number to work up to is 10,000 steps per day (which equates to about five miles for the average person). Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be achieved all at once! If you get 8 hours of sleep per day, then you have 16 hours to make it happen.

NativeTip: The goal of 10,000 steps becomes much more attainable when you switch up a few of your daily movement patterns— taking the stairs versus the elevator, choosing the parking spot furthest away from the entrance, or adding in a fun game of pickleball with the family.

If you need a little boost of motivation and accountability, join our Private Facebook Community where we host walking challenges twice a year. You’ll feel inspired as you walk alongside 55,000+ people all across the world.

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Krista Bugden
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Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden is a freelance writer with a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She spent 5 years working as a kinesiologist, giving her the first-hand experience she needed to write well-researched, scientific, and informative blogs.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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