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Chewing gum while walking helps burn more calories
June 11, 2018, 11:23 am

Research has shown that chewing sugar-free gum is actually good for your teeth, because it can prevent decay and plaque formation. One study also found that munching on gum can help to alleviate stress, probably due to increased blood flow to the brain.

But other studies have concluded that a gum-chewing habit reduced individuals' appetite for healthful snacks, such as fruit, but did nothing to curb their preference for junk foods, such as chips.

Now, however, scientists at the Waseda University in Japan have turned their attention in a different direction, asking whether chewing gum while walking could in any way influence a person's physiological functions. The results from the study reveal that even the smallest daily habit could impact the body and its use of energy.

In the first study, the participants received two pellets of chewing gum of 1.5 grams and 3 kilocalories each, and they were asked to chew on them while walking for 15 minutes (after 1 hour of rest) at a normal pace.

In the second trial, which created a ‘control’ situation, the participants were asked to engage in the same actions, except that this time, they only swallowed a powder containing the same ingredients as the chewing gum pellets.

On both occasions, the researchers measured or calculated the participants' resting heart rate and mean heart rate while walking, as well as what distance they had covered and their walking cadence. They also calculated how much energy each participant had likely spent by taking into account their mean walking speed and body mass.

Interestingly, for all the participants, the mean heart rate while walking increased when they chewed gum as they walked. The same was true for the difference between their heart rate at rest versus their heart rate in movement.

To understand whether there were any significant differences in physiological effects according to biological sex or age group, the research team conducted a set of analyses that took these factors into account. Thus, they split the participants into groups of male and female, and young (aged 18–39) or middle-aged and older (aged 40–69).

They noticed that both men and women had a higher mean heart rate while walking and a higher change in heart rate from resting to moving state, if they chewed gum at the same time.

But in the case of the male participants, the distance covered in their 15-minute walks, and their mean walking speed, increased more significantly in the gum-chewing trial. This was not seen in the case of female participants.

Also, those in the 40–69 age range showed a greater change in heart rate during the gum-chewing trial than their younger counterparts.

"Chewing gum while walking affects a number of physical and physiological functions in men and women of all ages," the researchers concluded, emphasizing that the most benefits seemed to be felt by the older male participants.

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