Resolution to Walk!
January is always a time for reflection and turning over a new leaf. For a lot of us, this usually means some sort of “get in better health” type resolutions. What’s better than starting off a new health routine by helping not only yourself, but your furry friend as well? Outside a couple of harsh days, our winter has been pretty mild so far and excellent for getting out there! Here are a couple of benefits of walking for both you and your fur-kid:
Great for the physical health of your dog, and yourself!
We don’t think its a secret how much exercise can help us. This goes for our dogs as well. Obesity is becoming an epidemic among K9’s in our country. As their role has turned more toward in-home pet and less toward working partner, our dog friends have been developing more weight issues. A dog that is overweight is more prone to many types of health problems including diabetes, joint degeneration, and heart conditions. Walking can keep your dog's digestive tract moving and help relieve constipation. Routine movement can also keep your dog's joints lubricated and healthy. This goes for us humans as well.
Even without a dog, walks promote physical health and a healthy weight. Now, add a dog into the mix and see increased benefits! "A dog provides love, companionship, and a sense of purpose that propels you to get outside walking every day," says Dr. Elizabeth Frates, director of wellness programming at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Daily exercise is probably the most tangible benefit of dog ownership, she notes. One study showed that dog owners walked an average of 20 more minutes a day and took about 2,700 additional steps compared with people who did not have a dog at home.
On top of that, most of that extra exercise was done at a moderate pace, defined in the study as 100 or more steps a minute. Some exercise guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise each week. Most of the dog owners (87%) in the study met those guidelines, versus 47% of non-owners.
Great for Mental Health!
In addition to the physical, there are also tangible mental and emotional health benefits to dog walking. Getting out will help you meet people, maybe even some potential animal lovers like you. Before long, you may have a new friend to join your daily walks. "You're more likely to meet people in your neighborhood, which helps you stay socially connected," says Dr. Frates, who notes that loneliness and isolation are linked to heart disease risk. If you love animals, walking is also a great time for bird (or other wildlife) watching. You can also learn more about the plants in your neighborhood or local parks. Walks improve emotional well-being. Regular walks reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional and behavioral issues
Besides human mental well being, our pups mentality also benefit. Walks help reduce the boredom that sometimes afflicts our pets. Many dogs tend to start looking for trouble when they get bored. Bored pets are more likely to get into cabinets or closets, or up onto tables, and eat things that can be dangerous for them. Regular walks not only give pets exercise, but the mental stimulation is great for keeping them out of trouble when they’re back home. Getting your dog out and about so they can get used to being around other dogs, people, squirrels, birds, and everything else that goes on out there can help them be a better-rounded canine citizen.
Some closing tips
The nice part about walking is that it doesn’t take a lot of planning or equipment, but there are still a few things to keep in mind:
Make sure to keep your pet leashed in accordance with local rules.
Always have proper identification on your pet.
Remember to bring plastic bags to clean up after your pet.
If you are going for a longer walk, remember to bring some fresh water for you and your pet.