Walking really does your body good from head to toe. Not only will it help keep your heart and legs strong and your waist trim, but it may protect your pearly whites, too.

It all has to do with the aerobic fitness benefits that walking confers. In a recent Japanese study, the folks who were the fittest were also the least likely to have severe periodontitis, a form of gum disease.

Tone for Your Teeth
Being both fit and slim is even better for your teeth. In the study, participants with a healthy body mass index (BMI) as well as a high capacity for aerobic endurance had the lowest odds of gum troubles. It’s just one more great reason to add a calorie-burning daily walk to your oral-care regimen. You’ll make your doctor and your dentist proud.

Axing Inflammation
How, exactly, does breaking a sweat keep your mouth healthy? Well for one, researchers believe that exercise helps quiet inflammation throughout the body, and that’s a good thing because inflammation is one of those potential triggers for disease, including gum disease. Physical activity may also help keep blood levels of C-reactive protein in check — another happy outcome because this compound may play a role in the origins of gum disease.

Reverse Benefit
It works the other way also—keeping your mouth healthy can benefit the rest of your body. Because untreated inflammation in your mouth can lead to inflammation in other parts of your system. In fact, effectively flossing and brushing your teeth daily can make your health age as much as six years younger.

So as you plan your personal health strategy, keep in mind that the health of your mouth is intimately related to the health of the rest of your body.