In the study, published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers recruited 50 participants in their 20s to 60s—including five male and five female participants per 10-year age group. The test group walked at a normal pace on an indoor track for 15 minutes while chewing two pieces of gum; the control group followed the same protocol, only they drank 30mL of water before walking that was mixed with powder containing the same gum ingredients (maltitol, xylitol (sweetener), apple flavoring, gum arabic (thickener), starch)—minus the gum base.
All participants wore a heart-rate monitor while they walked.
Turns out heart rate increased when participants chewed gum while walking—but it was particularly heightened in middle-aged men; their walking distance, heart rate, and calories burned all increased.
Researchers believe the reason is two-fold. First, chewing gum stimulates sympathetic nervous activity (that’s your fight-or-flight response), and increase heart rate; and second, heightened heart rate can be linked to something called cardiac-locomotor synchronization, which just means your body synchronizes your heart beat with your steps, matching the cadence so you walk a bit faster and farther.
Baseball players may go through pounds of Dubble Bubble to relieve dry mouths in dusty fields—and boredom, frankly—but it could help anyone torch some extra calories on the walk to work or a daily stroll through the neighborhood. Chewing gum can also keep your gums healthy. Just make sure to choose sugar-free varieties. Check out 10 more ways to burn calories that anyone can do.