All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Fred Biasini

Advisory Committee Members

Emily Dhurandhar

Gary Hunter

Kristi Menear

Bulent Turan

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


Physical activity levels have decreased and obesity rates have increased. Individuals now primarily perform mental work while remaining sedentary. Mental work has been associated with increased calorie consumption and decreased cognitive performance. The increased energy consumption and decline in cognitive performance following mental work may be due to the brain’s utilization of limited energy resources. The brain may seek food to replenish energy sources, and increased food consumption without changes in energy expenditure may contribute to positive energy balance. Exercise is known to contribute to negative energy balance. In addition, acute exercise and physical fitness levels are positively associated with improved mental performance. An acute bout of high intensity interval exercise may also increase blood glucose and lactate levels, two of the brain’s primary fuels. Thus, exercise may offset the deficits of the mental work by providing the brain with fuel that can improve performance and offset mental work induced hyperphagia. This dissertation reviews the current literature regarding mental work’s effect on energy intake and investigated whether an acute bout of high intensity interval exercise prevented increased energy intake following mental work. Participants completed a rest condition, mental work plus rest condition (MW+R) or mental work + exercise condition (MW+E). Visit order was counterbalanced. An ad libitum pizza lunch was presented at the end of each visit, and food consumption was quantified. Overall, participants that completed an acute bout of exercise following mental work consumed less energy than participants that completed mental work without exercise. Males and individuals with lower aerobic fitness were more likely to increase energy intake following mental work. Changes in blood lactate following exercise may be associated with changes in energy intake. No significant differences in cognitive performance were detected. Assessment of findings suggests mental work results in increased energy intake when compared to an equal period of rest, and exercise may prevent this effect and also contribute to negative energy balance. These findings may aide in prevention of positive energy balance associated with today’s sedentary workplace and assist with future weight management strategies.



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