How to easily pick up your walking pace

As you age, your walking rhythm slows down, but an anatomical quirk, connects your mouth with your toes…….so if you walk and chew, you’ll walk as fast as you chew

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How to easily pick up your walking pace

mouth pushing feet

As you age, your walking rhythm slows down, but an anatomical quirk, connects your mouth with your toes…….so if you walk and chew, you’ll walk as fast as you chew

You’re walking to stay fit…….

Good for you, the fact that you’re out and about, moving, is going to help you create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY and better health.

But are you walking fast enough ?

Going too slow

Unfortunately, if you’re dawdling along, the benefits you are accruing are not as significant, as if you picked up the pace.  And the older you are, the slower your default pace.  Eish !

So what can you do, to pick up the pace ?

The chewing gum strategy

Now this strategy came to light, thanks to the musings of a team of  Japanese researchers eager to make a contribution to solving the growing obesity problem.

Their goal was  to  give a power boost to the Japanese past time of walking.

Their strategy using chewing gum.

It’s not as left of centre as it sounds….. BUT DOES IT WORK ?

Walking with gum

Our team enrolled   50 participants, across an age range of 20-69 years.  They did this in such a way, as to have 5 males and 5 females, in each 10 year interval, so they could assess the effect of aging.

the protocol of the walking with chewing gum experiment

The walkers completed two 15 minute walks, on a treadmill, strapped up to the wearable K5 metabolic system,  in a random order, 40 minutes apart.  Once munching on a stick of gum  and once, after eating,  a sweet containing, the same ingredients, as the gum, without the gum.

Here you can see the results,  for the “oldies” – people over the age of 40.

table showing walking performance with and without chewing gum

Walking distance, step count, walking speed, heart rate, and energy expenditure during walking were higher, when they chewed gum.  This effect was not seen in the younger cohort.

A smidge of a benefit

Yes, the higher is a smidge higher, but the higher is significant i.e. it is really different.  And that smidge faster, means you’re getting the juices flowing a little more, so you’re getting  better workout and accruing MORE benefits.

Different enough to make you significantly thinner ?

Probably not, but it will make that walk, you’re already taking, to keep yourself fit & healthy, more productive.

And little things add up.

Plus, if you’re struggling to get mobile, after a stroke……. a piece of chewing gum, might be A GAME CHANGER !

So why does it work ? 

No one knows for sure. It might just be the GO SIDE of the autonomic nervous system, is stimulated by the prospect of dinner.

adrenaline selling hot dogs

But this is not what our team, think is happening.

Oscillatory motor behaviour

What is known, is chewing like walking, can be considered an oscillatory motor behaviour.  Now for something to oscillate,  you need a pattern generator, to  set the rhythm.  In the body, the rhythms are initiated by complex neuronal clusters, referred to as CPGs (central pattern generators).

  • The CPG for stepping is located in the spinal cord.
  • The CPG for chewing, is in the pons and medulla region of the brain stem.

They operate independently.

the cpg controlling oscillatory motor rythms

They have different preferred frequencies,  involve different muscles and body segments and have different goals.

But they are BOTH modulated by descending inputs…..

The rhythm setter

The CPG  on top…………. sets the rhythm, for the CPG’s lower down, the impact of this……….. the faster you chew, the faster you go.

Especially as you age, when the walking rhythm, is slowing down.

This is demonstrated below…..oldies typically walk slower, but what happens, depends on their chewing speed.

how chewing speed impacts gait velocity

Graph depicting changes in gait velocity as a function of the different chewing conditions. © 2019 Published by Elsevier B.V.

If they chew slower, they walk slower and if they chew faster, they walk faster.

The mouth metronome

Thanks to anatomy,  the  mouth metronome reaches all the way down to your toes.

lady taking a walk with chewing gum

So if you’re slowing down and want to put a little pep in your step.  Pop a piece of gum into your mouth, before you leave the house for your CONSTITUTION.   It will help you create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY and better health.

Gum chewing while walking increases walking distance and energy expenditure: A randomized, single-blind, controlled, cross-over study. Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness  (2021) 19:189e194. Yuka Hamada, Chihiro Nagayama, Kyoko Fujihira, Yusei Tataka, Ayano Hiratsu,  Kayoko Kamemoto , Kanako Shimo , Susumu Kanno , Kenji Osawa , Masashi Miyashita

Coupling of motor oscillators – What really happens when you chew gum and walk? Neuroscience Letters (2019) 698:90–96. Brittany Samulski, Jessica Prebor, Cortney Armitano, Steven Morrison

Dual-task walking and automaticity after Stroke: Insights from a secondary analysis and imaging sub-study of a randomised controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation  (2021) 1–12. Johnny Collett, Melanie K Fleming, Daan Meester, Emad Al-Yahya, Derick T Wade, Andrea Dennis, Piergiorgio Salvan, Andrew Meaney, Janet Cockburn, Joanna Dawes, Heidi Johansen-Berg and Helen Dawes. 

Further reading

women nordic walking

A sneaky way to get more physical activity and enjoy it’s benefits

Walking is a leg centric process. When you’re walking, the muscles in the upper body, are doing very little, unless ….. walking on steroids

a bad hair day

Is your neighbourhood foiling your attempt to move more ?

Walking is the ultimate way to move more – there is only one problem, you need to have somewhere to walk to. Does your neighbourhood have walkability ?

Want to get ahead – find someone to walk in step with you

Not metaphorically. You need to find someone who will synchronize their gait with you and put one foot in front of the other, so they walk in time with you.

Want to discover more ways to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY ?