There are many health benefits associated with walking your dog. So with January being - walk your dog month - what better way to kickstart any new year fitness resolutions. Regular exercise with your pet is good for both you and your dog's health and don't forget it can be great fun. There's nothing like an exercise partner who's waiting by the door with a wagging tail to keep you motivated!
Dog owners enjoy numerous health and social benefits by walking their dogs a few times a week. Benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones (built up by walking regularly), and decreased stress.
A regular walk is vitally important for your pet's health too. Obesity in pets is associated with a number of medical complaints including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and insulin resistance.
BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT THE DOOR
Poo bags - Leaving your dog’s droppings on the ground is not only inconsiderate of other people who use the path, but it is also unhealthy for the natural ecosystem of the area. Check out our poo bags, unlike regular plastics they are biodegradable so you won't feel guilty when throwing these in the bin, they are also scented to mask any unsavoury smells from your dog's mess.
A huge health benefit of walking your dog is increased physical fitness. Walking is a fantastic low-impact activity you can do anywhere. Over time, it will help strengthen your muscles, bones, and joints. You may even notice that your normal route is feeling a little easy and decide to stay out longer or walk up that extra hill.
How far you walk at a time and per day will depend on the breed and age of your dog—a 2-year-old springer spaniel will have more endurance than an elderly pug, for example. Always take your dog’s needs and abilities into consideration when planning your route.
On warmer days, you’ll also need to consider the surface you’re walking on. In the sun, pavement can easily reach dangerously high temperatures and burn your dog’s paws. A good test is to place your hand or barefoot on the pavement. If you can’t hold it there for 10 seconds, it means the ground is too hot for your dog to walk on. On days like this, you’ll just need to make sure you walk on the grass or dirt.
BETTER MENTAL HEALTH
There is a psychological reason why so many dogs become service animals for veterans and people living with PTSD: walking a dog can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and research shows that spending time with a dog can reduce the output of the stress hormone cortisol.
For people coping with depression walking a dog can be a complete game-changer. It can be hard to motivate yourself to get out of the house if you are doing it by yourself. You may experience physical fatigue as a symptom of depression, and this can make it challenging to exercise, studies have shown that regular exercise can be a powerful antidepressant.
But there’s no better motivator than your dog giving you big puppy eyes and begging to go for a walk. It is a proven fact that physical activity releases endorphins in the brain that energise you and create positive feelings. It will reduce stress, boost mood, and increase mental energy. Additionally, the routine of walking a dog every day can be a healthy distraction from negative thoughts.
The companionship dogs can offer as walking buddies can also reduce loneliness. Walking a dog can often lead to conversations with other dog owners and will help you stay socially connected to others. Research has found that owning a pet can also benefit the whole community. The researchers found that pet owners, in particular dog owners, were more likely to, acknowledge and greet other people in the street, exchange favours with neighbours, meet others in their neighbourhood.
Even if you don’t own a dog yourself, there are still plenty of ways to spend time walking them to achieve these benefits. Ask a friend or family member if you can take their dog. Many animal shelters rely on volunteers to walk the dogs in their kennels. Not only are you getting these mental and physical health benefits for yourself, but you’ll also have a boost from knowing you’ve helped dogs in need.
Many studies have shown that regular exercise does help improve your amount and quality of sleep. Adults require 7-9 hours of sleep, but a recent study has found that 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with a higher risk of developing conditions like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Additionally, lack of sleep can negatively impact your mental health. If you’ve ever felt irritable or had trouble focusing after a poor night’s sleep, you know what we’re talking about. Not to mention the physical effects, such as headaches, dry, burning eyes, and fatigue. It can be challenging to get yourself to exercise when you already are groggy and exhausted from lack of sleep. This is where your dog can help!
At least 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise (that you can easily get from taking your dog for a walk) can help you achieve deeper more restful sleep. Keep in mind that exercising too close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Even light physical activity temporarily increases blood pressure, raises body temperature, and stimulates your nervous system, which may make it more difficult to wind down. Keep your walks limited to daytime hours and you’ll sleep like a baby!
Enjoying the company of your dog and watching them have fun and enjoying running around is a beautiful feeling. Seeing their happy little faces is something we treasure as pet owners. Walking your dog is about so much more than just “toilet breaks.” Walking your dog provides mental stimulation, physical exercise, chances for socialization, and opportunities for behavioural training.
Moreover, it gets both of you out and about while helping to grow the bond you have with your dog and always remember to give your best friend a treat when you get home. We've got loads of healthy, natural and nutritious ones to choose from check out our range.