How often do you take your dog for a walk? Most people assume that all owners take their dogs for walks every day, but a recent study found that as many as 50% don’t, opting to let them run around the backyard instead. We know that busy lifestyles, work commitments and poor weather conditions can make it hard to commit to daily walks, but these trips aren’t only for your pet. While your dog will undoubtedly love being take out to explore, but there are just as many positive reasons for you to make the time for daily walks with your canine pal too. Here are four important health benefits of walks with your dog.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most important and obvious benefits of walking with your dog is that you will get fitter. Walking is one of the easiest ways to increase your fitness levels as, unless you are significantly overweight or suffering mobility problems, you won’t find it too strenuous. It’s low impact, you can do it anywhere, it’s free and you don’t need any special equipment. Over time, you’ll find that you can walk further, faster and your dog will be an excellent companion and training coach. Just be sure to consider the surfaces that you are walking on (on warm days, some ground can get too hot for your dog to safely walk on), and if you are going far, take water and snacks for both you and your dog.
Mental health is extremely important too, and there’s a very good reason why so many dogs become therapy animals… owning a dog has been proven to boost your mood, help you to control anxiety and depression, and reduce your stress levels. One of the reasons for this is because having a dog forces you to get out of the house. Sure, you can let your dog into your backyard for some exercise and to empty their bladder and bowels, but they do still need to be walked too. Failing to walk your dog can lead to them becoming bored and developing undesirable behaviors and gaining weight – something which can lead to health problems. While you may struggle to find the motivation to take care of yourself, most people find it much easier to take care of others, particularly when they are completely reliant on you. As a dedicated owner, you will want to make sure that your dog gets the exercise that they need to be healthy and happy.
Walking may be low impact, but it is exercise and exercise has been proven to be tiring. You may not come in and need to crash out on the couch immediately, but the activity that you have done will catch up with you. People who exercise regularly tend to get better quality sleep and manage to stay asleep for longer.
Many people are surprised to discover just how vital sleep quality and quantity is for their physical and mental health. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation has been associated with a greater risk of developing some chronic health conditions including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Meanwhile, poor sleep can make you feel more irritable, increase mood swings, anxiety and depression, and make it harder to cope with day-to-day life. Walking daily with your dog will help you – and them – to sleep more soundly.
How healthy is your heart? Cardiovascular disease is on the rise, which is in part believed to be because too many people are becoming increasingly more sedentary in their day to day lives. Your cardiovascular system is made up of your heart, blood, arteries, and veins – all of which are crucial to keeping you alive. Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease occur when your heart struggles to pump blood efficiently through your body. However, regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and the CDC recommends that everyone should do at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day to keep their heart-healthy.
Having a dog makes it easy to incorporate 20 minutes of exercise into their daily routine, and for many four-legged friends, a 20-minute walk just once each day actually isn’t enough activity to keep them healthy and happy. Your vet will be able to advise you how much physical activity your dog should be getting.
For more health benefits of walks with your dog, or to receive any other expert advice, please contact our veterinary office at (573) 245-1027.