Taking your dog out for a walk shouldn’t just be an opportunity for them to relieve themselves away from the house. Just like us, our dogs need regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Exactly how much exercise your dog needs will depend on their breed, age, and general health, but some canines can happily walk for very long distances and should be taken on long hikes as well as shorter daily walks. Just remember to take the right supplies with you – fresh water and a snack if it’s a long ramble, and of course poop bags no matter how long you are out. Walking your dog will keep their muscles and joints strong and supple, their heart-healthy, and their weight under control. But the benefits of walking with your furry friend extend to you too. Here are four of the main health benefits of walks with your dog.
It’s fair to say that everyone’s emotional wellbeing has taken a battering over the last year and more people are suspected to be suffering from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression than ever before. The trouble is, when you suffer from conditions like this, it can be very hard to motivate yourself to do things that will help you feel better. Nevertheless, when you have a furry friend relying on you for their health, the sense of responsibility that you feel for them will help to push you to do the things that you need to take care of them. One of these will be going out for walks.
Walking helps to improve your mental health by triggering the release of endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good hormones that interact with the receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. They also create a positive feeling in the body that is similar to the ‘high’ that people can get after taking morphine, reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and boosting your self-esteem. And your doggy is a great companion to have with you, which will improve the way that you think and feel too.
It’s no surprise that regular walking is a great way to improve your physical fitness too. In fact, many people who are starting out doing regular exercise for the first time are often recommended to walk rather than consider any intensive exercise. This is because walking is low impact and can be done by even the most unfit human! It’s also free, doesn’t require any special equipment, and can be done pretty much anywhere. You can vary the length of your walks and the intensity. For example, one day you might want to do a walk with lots of inclines, while another you may prefer a shorter, flatter journey. The more you walk, the further you will be able to go. And your dog will provide the perfect coach, giving you companionship and encouragement to get out for some sort of walk every single day.
How much sleep do you get each night? The CDC recommends that all adults aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but that sleep needs to be decent quality too if it’s to have the most positive effects on our health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, studies show that as many as 1 in 3 adults don’t get the recommended amount of sleep every night, which can affect our moods, our concentration, our memory and put us at greater risk of developing health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
When you haven’t had enough sleep and you feel tired, going for a walk may be the last thing on your mind, but your dog won’t take no for an answer! They need you to help them get the exercise that will keep them healthy. And seeing them so excited to go out will make it impossible to refuse them. At least 30 minutes of walking each day will help you to achieve deeper and more restful sleep, so what are you waiting for?
Daily walks won’t only improve your fitness, mood, and sleep quality, they will also help to keep your heart and the rest of your cardiovascular system healthy too. An increasing number of people are being diagnosed with conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease – something which is being attributed to the rise in the percentage of people who are overweight or obese. Cardiovascular diseases are very serious, life-shortening, and even life-threatening. Fortunately, regular exercise has been shown to be very effective in reducing people’s risk of developing these conditions. Just 20 minutes of physical activity each day is enough – something easily covered by a single walk with your dog!
Walking is also a great way to strengthen the bond that you have with your dog and to enjoy some quality time together. If you aren’t sure how much exercise your dog needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly veterinary team who will be happy to help. Call 4 Paws Veterinary Hospital at (276) 431-4838.