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Walk your way to better oral health

Spend too much time sitting? Try taking a walk. This low-intensity exercise is great for you and your teeth. Here are three reasons to head out the door.

1. Curb your sugar cravings

Did you know that a 15-minute walk can reduce your sugar cravings? When you take a bite of something sweet, bacteria in your mouth turn that sugar into acid. Over time and with enough exposure, acid can eat away at tooth enamel and lead to cavities. Walking makes it easier to ignore those cookies sitting in the break room.

2. Boost your immune system

Walking just 20 minutes a day, five days a week, can strengthen your immune system, and that’s good news for your oral health. A healthy immune system helps protect your mouth against diseases like periodontal disease, which can cause red, swollen and tender gums that are more likely to bleed when you brush.

3. Feel less stressed

Stress isn't good for you or your teeth. When you're stressed, you're less likely to brush and floss properly, which can increase your risk for cavities and gum disease.

Being stressed out can also make you grind your teeth, leading to a host of possible problems like jaw pain, headaches, gum recession and tooth sensitivity.

Walking has been proven to help by serving as a distraction from worrying thoughts and releasing endorphins into the brain that reduce pain perception and generate a positive physical feeling.

Walking is a great addition to a workout routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intensely vigorous exercise every week. Plus, research published in the Journal of Dentistry showed that among people who never smoked, those who got the recommended amount of exercise were 54 percent less likely to have periodontal disease than people who didn’t exercise at all.

So, do your oral health and your mood a favor by enjoying a relaxing walk. Just make sure to hydrate before and after with water, and to apply sunscreen as well as lip balm with an SPF 30+ rating before heading out into the sun.