The study, published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science, found an increase in the heart rate of 46 people who chewed gum while walking normally. Previous studies showed that chewing gum increases one’s heart rate and energy expenditure at rest.
According to the researchers, this is the first study that looked at the effects of chewing gum while walking.
“Combining exercise and gum chewing may be an effective way to manage weight,” they said.
In particular, the combination could be helpful in countries such as Japan, where walking is the “most widely performed movement.”
In a 2017 report, the OECD listed the United States as having the highest adult obesity rates, while Japan had the lowest figures among member countries.
In the study, chewing gum caused a measurable difference in both genders and all age groups (21-69), but significant findings were observed in men over 40.
Volunteers completed two 15-minute walks, chewing two pellets of gum containing three kilocalories in one and ingesting powder with the same ingredients for the other.
Researchers measured their resting heart rate and walking heart rate in both sets. Walking distances, walking speeds, number of steps, and energy expenditure were also measured.
While the study did not determine the exact mechanism behind the combination of physical activities and weight loss, the researchers speculated that the body’s “cardiac-locomotor synchronization” could be responsible.
The phenomenon, also known as “cardiac-locomotor coupling,” happens when the heart beats in rhythm with movement. It is said to occur more frequently among elderly people.
The researchers concluded that the results were affected by the volunteers’ age and gender. They recommend measuring the number of chews at rest and while walking in future studies.
“Collecting these additional data can allow for more detailed characterization of the effects of gum chewing while walking on physical and physiological functions,” they said.