Effects of acute aerobic exercise on energy compensation in women who do not use hormonal contraceptives

Joel Rocha, Jenny Paxman, Caroline Dalton, David Broom

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Exercise is an important strategy to maintain or reduce body mass but its efficacy varies between individuals. This could be explained by behavioural and physiological compensatory responses in energy intake and/or non-exercise energy expenditure. These responses are further affected by participants’ sex and habitual physical activity and few studies have controlled appetite-modulating variables such as menstrual cycle and menstrual symptoms. Furthermore, studies combine hormonal contraceptive users and non-users. To the author’s knowledge, no study has examined the acute effects of a single bout of aerobic exercise on energy intake and physical activity energy expenditure while directly comparing active and inactive women not using hormonal contraceptives. After institutional ethical approval, 16 healthy, active (n = 8) and inactive (n = 8) pre-menopausal women completed a counter-balanced, randomised, crossover design study with two conditions (exercise and control). Participants’ activity status was determined by self-reported physical activity using a modified version of the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire. After fasting overnight, participants consumed a standardised breakfast. The exercise day involved cycling for 1 h at an intensity equivalent to 50% of maximum oxygen uptake and resting for 2 h. The control day comprised 3 h of rest. An ad libitum pasta lunch was consumed and then food diaries and Actihearts assessed free-living food intake and energy expenditure, respectively, for subsequent 3 days. Mixed-design, two-way factorial analysis of variance highlighted there were no main effects or interaction for absolute energy intake (P > 0.05) at lunch but there was a condition effect for relative energy intake (F(1, 14) = 11.735; P = 0.004, d = −0.79) that was lower in the exercise condition (1417 ± 926 kJ vs. 2120 ± 923 kJ). There were no main effects or interactions (P > 0.05) for daily energy intake and there was only a group effect (F(1,12) = 14.141; P = 0.003, d = 2.00) for total free-living energy expenditure. This study demonstrates that an acute bout of aerobic exercise did not elicit changes in absolute lunchenergy intake in either group. However, relative energy intake decreased meaning an acute energy deficit persisted after lunch. An acute bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise does not induce compensatory responses in active and inactive women not using hormonal contraceptives after exercise, so moderate-intensity aerobic exercise should continue to be promoted as an intervention to prevent weight gain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)s61
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue numberSup 1
Early online date15 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2016
EventBASES Conference 2016 - East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham , United Kingdom
Duration: 29 Nov 201630 Nov 2016


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