In order for dogs to live long and healthy lives, they require regular exercise. However, they are not the only ones who can benefit from going for walks on a regular basis. Here are some of the ways that taking your dog for a walk can also benefit you.
The positive effects of dogs on one’s health.
Dogs absolutely adore going for walks; in fact, many owners have taken to pronouncing the word “walk” as “w-a-l-k” whenever they discuss the activity with their canine companions in order to prevent their dogs from becoming overly excited. You are not the only one who can reap the benefits of going for daily walks; doing so is not only beneficial for your dog.
Before you walk out the door, you need to double check that you have all of the necessary items in your possession. Always ensure that you have some plastic bags on hand so that you can clean up after your dog. It is not only impolite to other people who use the path for you to leave the faeces that your dog has produced on the ground, but it is also detrimental to the natural ecosystem that exists in the area.
If your dog has a history of pulling when excited, you should probably invest in a harness for them so that they do not put unnecessary strain on their necks or suffocate themselves. Harnesses can be found in a wide variety of designs, styles, and types. Be aware, however, that even using a harness will not prevent your dog from pulling on the leash; this is why loose-leash training is necessary. The only other thing you’ll need is a pair of good walking shoes, and then you’ll be all set to hit the road or the path outside your door.
Have you gathered everything you require? Continue reading to learn more about the four ways that walking your dog can improve your health.
1. Improve your level of physical fitness
It is common knowledge that if you exercise on a consistent basis, your fitness level will improve. However, with many different exercise routines, half the battle is to keep up with the programme long enough to see the benefits of it. This obstacle is almost completely removed when you go for a walk with a dog because they can serve as both a training partner and a coach at the same time. After you have established a routine with them, they will be so eager to go outside that they won’t let you skip a day, regardless of whether it is sunny or stormy outside.
Walking is an excellent low-impact physical activity that can be done anywhere. Your muscles, bones, and joints will all get stronger as a result of this activity over time. You might even realise that your typical path is becoming a little less challenging, at which point you might choose to remain outside for a longer period of time or walk up an additional hill.
The breed and age of your dog will determine how far you can walk at one time as well as how far you can walk on a daily basis. For example, a two-year-old border collie will have more endurance than an elderly pug. Adjust the length and difficulty of your walk so that it is appropriate for your dog. If it is going to be a long hike or if it is going to be a hot day, you should bring water and a bowl for your dog to drink out of.
On days when the temperature is higher, you will also need to take into consideration the ground you are walking on. Pavement can easily reach temperatures that are hazardously high when exposed to the sun, which can cause your dog’s paws to become burned. The best way to check the temperature of the pavement is to put your bare hand or foot on it. If you are unable to maintain your position for the full ten seconds, this indicates that the ground is too hot for your dog to walk on. When the weather is like this, you should avoid walking on the pavement and instead opt to walk on the grass or the dirt. You also have the option of purchasing booties for your dog, which can act as a form of foot protection.
The more walks you take with your dog, the better shape you’ll both be in. If your dog is up for the challenge, they might even turn out to be a great running companion in the future.
2. Better mental health
Walking a dog can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and research shows that spending time with a dog can reduce output of the stress hormone cortisol. This is one of the psychological reasons why so many dogs are trained to become service animals for veterans and people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It has been shown that owning a dog can be a life-changing experience for people who struggle with depression. When you are on your own, it can be challenging to find the motivation to get yourself out of the house and into the world. Studies have shown that regular exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. However, if you are experiencing physical fatigue as a symptom of depression, this can make it difficult for you to exercise, despite the fact that exercise has been shown to be an antidepressant.
But nothing will get you out the door faster than your dog looking at you with those big puppy eyes and pleading with you to take him for a walk. Having a dog compels you to spend more time outside, which kicks off a domino effect of benefits that are beneficial to your mental health. Endorphins are chemicals that are produced in the brain as a result of exercise. These endorphins give you more energy and make you feel better. It will improve mood, lessen the effects of stress, and raise mental energy levels. In addition, the daily ritual of taking a dog for a walk can be an effective way to divert one’s attention from unfavourable thoughts.
The take-home message here is that if you take care of another living thing, it may make it easier for you to take care of yourself.
The reduction of loneliness that can result from having a dog as a walking companion is another benefit of having a dog. Taking your dog for a walk increases your chances of striking up a conversation with other people who own dogs and keeps you more socially connected to other people.
Even if you don’t have a dog of your own, there are a lot of other ways to spend time walking dogs that will still allow you to reap the benefits of doing so. You could ask a friend or member of your family if you could walk their dog around the neighbourhood, or you could look for other places where you could volunteer. The dogs that are confined in kennels at many animal shelters are exercised on a volunteer basis. You will not only improve your own mental and physical health, but you will also feel better about yourself because you will be able to feel good about the fact that you helped dogs who were in need.
3. Improved sleep
Because exercise wears a dog down, when they get home from a long walk or a long session of play, you’ve probably seen your dog passed out on the floor. This is because exercise is tiring! Studies have shown that engaging in regular physical activity can help improve both the quantity and quality of sleep you get, even if you don’t feel the need to take a nap as soon as you get home like your dog does.
A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that one in three adults do not get enough sleep, despite the fact that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function properly. There is a correlation between not getting enough sleep and an increased likelihood of developing conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Additionally, if you don’t get enough sleep, it can have a negative impact on your mental health. After a night of poor sleep, you probably know exactly what we’re talking about if you’ve ever experienced feelings of irritability or struggled to concentrate on tasks. Not to mention the negative effects on one’s body, such as fatigue, headaches, and eyes that feel dry and burning. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, you might feel groggy and exhausted all the time, making it difficult to motivate yourself to go to the gym. Here is where your dog enters the picture! He will make it impossible for you to avoid overcoming this obstacle and will force you to go outside so that you can break the dangerous cycle of inactivity and poor sleep.
You don’t even have to be training for a triathlon in order to see the effects of this workout. You can improve the quality of your sleep by walking your dog for at least half an hour before bedtime. This will get your heart rate up and burn off some of the excess energy you accumulated during the day.
Keep in mind that engaging in vigorous activity in the hours leading up to bedtime can make it more challenging to get to sleep. Even light exercise can temporarily raise blood pressure, cause the body temperature to rise, and stimulate the nervous system, all of which can make it more difficult to wind down and relax. If you restrict your walks to the daytime, you’ll be able to fall asleep much more easily.
4. Decreased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease
In addition to assisting in keeping your skeletal and muscular systems in optimal working condition, regular exercise also assists in keeping your cardiovascular system in good shape.
Your heart, blood, veins, and arteries all make up what’s known as your cardiovascular system. Serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and coronary heart disease, can develop if your heart is unable to pump blood through your body effectively or if it encounters a blockage. Both of these situations can cause your heart to work less effectively.
Participating in consistent physical activity can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as well as your resting heart rate and blood pressure. At least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for adults. This amounts to slightly more than twenty minutes of physical activity on a daily basis for you. If you have your dog by your side, reaching this benchmark should not be difficult.
You will need to supplement your dog’s daily 20-minute walk with a longer run, jog, or time spent in the backyard in order to ensure that your canine companion is getting the amount of exercise that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends. Again, this will be determined by the breed of your dog as well as its age. Always check with your trusted veterinarian before making any changes to the amount of activity your dog is getting on a daily basis.
Because of the combination of excessive feeding and insufficient exercise, an increasing number of dogs than ever before are suffering from health problems such as obesity. One of the most effective ways to deal with this is to go for walks. Not only will your daily walks keep your heart healthy, but they will also keep your dog’s heart healthy.