A significant focus of patient education at my practice is ensuring that patients understand the strong links between their overall health and oral health. Of course, this is not an age-specific or gender-specific issue, but today I’d like to take a moment to consider women in particular. Staying fit can go a long way to avoiding obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other health issues that can contribute to or complicate oral health.
We’re all inundated with reports about the dangers of obesity, and women are particularly vulnerable to social pressures about their weight. According to one study, over one-third of adult weight-loss-pill users were not obese and another third of those surveyed used non-prescription diet products. This is cause for concern because diet pills can create the discomfort of decreased salivary flow, or dry mouth, especially in mature patients, increasing the risk for cavities, gum disease, and oral candidiasis.
A balanced diet and working out make more sense, but statistics on women’s fitness patterns are disheartening. According to experts, more than 60% of North American women do not get enough exercise and according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill fewer than 1 in 4 pregnant women do.
Lack of time is cited as the biggest barrier so maybe the heart of the matter is fighting the trend by creating a routine that you can live with. Here are some simple ways I’ve read about that work your workout into your workday without too much effort: Jump rope in your office for five minutes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Ride your bicycle for short distances instead of driving your car. If you do drive, park your car at least a quarter mile from your destination and walk. Or, walk over to a colleague’s desk to talk about work, rather than sending an email.
Even better yet – 30 minutes of gardening, pushing a stroller 1.5 miles in thirty minutes, and raking leaves for thirty minutes. If you like to watch TV, forgo a half-hour show and get outside for a walk. Or if it’s a show you love, watch while you’re exercising.
I understand completely that it’s hard to fit in time to get fit when your schedule is already packed between the morning alarm and crawling back into bed at night. Especially after a day that keeps you on the run mentally ... but not physically.
Still, I hope you can see that you don’t always have to join a gym. There is room to be creative and include a little physical workout without making any big changes to your schedule. And, of course, keeping time in your schedule to maintain your oral health will contribute to keeping you healthy.