When was the last time you went for a long walk? Whether you’re deep into the woods or just walking around your local mall, the benefits are significant. They include boosts to your cardio, stress levels, and even your oral health.
Everyone knows that a daily routine of brushing and flossing is the optimal way to take care of your teeth, but many things you can do have an indirect benefit as well. This benefit can take the form of preventing certain dental problems, reducing plaque production, and more. Discover how one of the simplest and most adventurous activities you can do – hiking – can reap benefits for your smile.
What Does Hiking Do for You?
If you’re walking regularly, then you’re bringing advantages into your life that you might not even be aware of. First off, hiking or walking are legitimate ways to burn calories and stay fit. The average 160-pound adult will burn around 440 calories per hour of hiking.
The fitness benefits are just the beginning though. The next most significant advantage and the key to why it improves your oral health lies in the stress-reducing properties of hiking. Going for a walk, especially out in the sun and fresh air has a remarkable effect on your stress levels. Since many dental problems, from bruxism to gum disease are developed or aggravated by excess stress, this is an indirect way that all exercise, including hiking, is excellent for your oral health.
Five Ways Hiking Is Great for Your Smile
When it comes to hiking and your oral health, it may seem that one thing has nothing to do with the other, but in many ways, the positives of hiking carry over to your smile as well. Discover how making walking or hiking a consistent part of your life will improve your oral health.
1. Lower Stress Means Less Chance of Gum Disease and Other Problems
While exercise is a phenomenal stress relief, hiking is even more of one, mostly due to the constant movement, being out in nature, and breathing fresh air. If you’re talking to friends or exploring an interesting and fun location, this effect can be even more prevalent. Dr. Darlene Hart confirms the benefits of decreased stress on your oral health:
“Stress plays a significant role in causing problems for your sleep and dental health.”
By hiking regularly, you’re keeping this stress to a minimum, which yields remarkable benefits for your smile.
2. Decreased Blood Pressure Means You Avoid Harmful Medications
About one in every three American adults, or 85 million people, have dangerously high blood pressure according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The medications prescribed for high blood pressure have a side effect that is harmful to your oral health: Dry mouth. Severe dry mouth deprives your mouth of saliva, which is its natural form of defense.
By hiking regularly, you’re keeping your blood pressure at a safe, moderate level, meaning these medications that harm your teeth simply aren’t necessary. This is another indirect way that hiking is excellent for preventing oral health problems.
3. Promotes Fitness and Reduces Sugar Cravings
When you’re sitting around in relaxation mode, chilling on the couch or engaging in other low-energy activities, your sugar cravings strike with more power than ever. However, if you’re moving consistently on a hike or brisk walk, your body is busy burning energy, and you’ll notice your cravings subside.
This is a double benefit for your health because you’re not only suppressing your appetite for sugary foods which is great for your teeth, but you’re burning over 400 calories per hour on a hike, boosting your fitness.
4. Hiking Improves Immunity Which is Excellent for Oral Health
Improved immunity is an excellent benefit of walking, and you don’t have to take on the Appalachian Trail to reap the benefits. To gain the effect of a stronger immune system, all you have to do is go for a 20-minute walk, five days per week.
5. Hiking Will Help You Lose Weight
Weight loss is one of the most common goals of people engaging in any form of exercise. Whether someone has ten pounds to lose before they look their absolute best or they’re trying to get out of obesity status, hiking is a viable way to do it. Plus, this weight loss will help cure symptoms of one of the most devastating disorders, sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea and Weight Loss
The vast majority of patients who are diagnosed with sleep apnea are also obese, and any effort to lose this weight goes a long way in restoring their ability to sleep. If you’re experiencing frequent bouts of snoring and waking up through the night, sleep apnea very well may be the culprit. The only way to know for sure is to visit a sleep specialist like Dr. Jennifer Buchanan in San Rafael, CA for a sleep test. Once diagnosed, you’ll receive treatments that restore your ability to sleep.
Try These Tips to Get Even More Dental Benefits From Your Hike
In addition to the advantages that are inherent in the act of hiking regularly, there are also extra things you can do that make it even better for your oral health. Consider these tips to provide an added benefit for your smile.
- Chew Xylitol gum while hiking – it’s phenomenal for your teeth.
- Choose drinks and snacks that are sugar-free or low in sugar.
- Drink plenty of water throughout your hike to rinse your mouth and hydrate your body.
- Consider bringing a friend who will make the trip more fun and less stressful.
- If your hike is going to end in camping, remember to bring a travel toothbrush.
Make Hiking a Regular Part of Your Life for a Healthier Smile
Ready to get your backpack ready, find your favorite trail, and go on an outdoor adventure? While you’ll enjoy the scenery, fresh air, and moderate exercise, you’ll also be reaping a host of benefits for your body and teeth. With dental advantages like reducing your chances of getting gum disease and decreasing blood pressure so you don’t need medications that damage your smile, hiking is essentially nature’s miracle cure – and all you have to do is keep moving.