Tag Archives: exercise

Why Exercise?

Exercise might be one of the most overlooked factors in dental health. While most people are at least aware that physical activity is part of being healthy, far fewer know that it helps their teeth and gums, too.

For instance, as we noted before, research shows that those who exercise have a much lower risk of periodontitis (gum disease) than those who don’t, especially former smokers. (For most, smoking pretty much guarantees gum disease and tooth loss.)

Physical activity also helps your body better assimilate nutrients like calcium, a crucial mineral for the remineralization of teeth.

Here are 5 more “hidden” benefits, courtesy of integrative physician Dr. Eudene Harry, author of Live Younger in 8 Simple Steps:

  1. Younger looking, more blemish-free skin
    The increase in circulation and perspiration that occurs with exercise delivers more nutrients to your skin while allowing impurities and waste to be removed. The result? A healthier complexion!
  2. Natural “feel-good” chemicals
    Exercise releases endorphins, the brain chemicals that boost your mood and make you feel happy, as well as relieve stress, and enhance your self-esteem and self-confidence. Exercise has also been shown to increase neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which gives us a natural high and allows us to sleep better.
  3. Constipation prevention
    Exercise increases the contractions of the wall of the intestine, helping to move things along through the intestinal tract more easily, and decreasing the time it takes to pass through the large intestine. But wait an hour or two after eating before exerting yourself: Exercising too soon after a meal can divert blood flow away from the gut and toward the muscles, weakening peristaltic contractions (and slowing down the digestion process).
  4. Prevents brittle bones
    Walking, jogging, dancing, weight training and yoga are all weight-bearing exercises that help strengthen bones. Swimming and bicycling are exercises that are considered non-weight bearing. During weight-bearing exercises, bones adapt to the impact of the weight and the pull of muscles by building more bone cells, increasing strength and density and decreasing the risk of fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis.
  5. Enhanced immunity
    Physical exertion increases the rate at which antibodies flow through the blood stream, resulting in better immunity against sickness. The increased temperature generated during moderate exercise makes it difficult for certain infectious organisms to survive.

40 more reasons to exercise

We hope you and yours have a joyful Thanksgiving – a wonderful start to your holiday season ! We’ll be back to our regular posting here on November 30.

Image by bookgrl, via Flickr

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Filed under General Health, Oral Health

Exercise: Good for Muscles, Heart, Lungs & Yes, Teeth & Gums, Too!

If you’re unfamiliar with holistic approaches to health, you might be surprised by the fact that what’s good for general health is also good for your teeth and gums. Conventional wisdom says dentistry and medicine are two separate fields, not specializations within a single, broad field. So you see a dentist for your teeth and a physician for the rest of your body, as though one had nothing to do with the other.

Funny – how easily we can forget that the mouth is connected with the rest of the body!

Even physical exercise – or the lack of it – affects more that just our muscles, lungs and heart. Those are just the three areas where we feel it most. While we might get a “runner’s high,” we don’t really feel exercise in our brains, even as exercise has been shown to keep the brain fit and improve thinking. Likewise, we don’t feel exercise in our teeth and gums, but there are, in fact, established links between physical fitness and oral health.

For instance, check out the 2005 Journal of Dentistry study, which found that regular exercise lowers the risk of periodontitis (gum disease):

  • Never-smokers who exercised regularly “were about 54% less likely to have periodontitis” than those who didn’t exercise.
  • Former smokers who exercised regularly had a 74% lower risk.

Unsurprisingly, exercise did nothing to lower the risk of gum disease for smokers.

We see similar results when obesity is factored into the equation. For instance, one paper published last year in the Journal of Periodontology found that those with the lowest body mass index (BMI) and highest measure of physical fitness – gauged by percent body fat and maximum oxygen consumption – were less at risk for periodontal disease than other study subjects. “This study suggests,” wrote the research team, “that obesity and physical fitness may have some interactive effect on periodontal health status.”

In fact, there are three positive factors – “health-enhancing behaviors” – that have been shown repeatedly to reduce the risk of gum disease. They’re spelled out in the abstract of one last study I’d like to draw your attention to, also from the Journal of Periodontology:

After controlling for age, gender, race\ethnicity, cigarette smoking, other tobacco products, education, diabetes, poverty index, census region, acculturation, vitamin use, time since the last dental visit, dental calculus, and gingival bleeding, a 1-unit increase in the number of the three health-enhancing behaviors was associated with a 16% reduction in the prevalence of periodontitis (odds ratio [OR] = 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.77 to 0.93). Individuals who maintained normal weight, engaged in the recommended level of exercise, and had a high-quality diet were 40% less likely to have periodontitis compared to individuals who maintained none of these health-enhancing behaviors. [emphasis added]

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get moving!

Images by Mait Jüriado and BBluesman, via Flickr

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Filed under Dental Health, Oral Health