Dog Walking for Your Health
If you have a dog and you aren’t going for regular walks together, you may end up getting to know your doctor a whole lot better then you might care for.
According to a recent study at George Washington University, going for regular walks with your four legged friend can have a significant impact on many of your vital health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol, risk for diabetes and can even help to fend off bouts of depression.
Dog Walking | Not Just for Your Pooch
What would you say if I told you that NOT taking regular walks with your dog would;
- Give you a 58% higher chance of being overweight
- Make you twice as likely to have elevated blood pressure
- Make you 35% more likely to experience signs of depression
What I can tell you is that these aren’t random numbers pulled out of a hat.
Cindy Lentino, MS, is an exercise scientist at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
According to her interview with WebMD, “Dog owners who don’t walk their dog are missing a great opportunity to get physical activity and stay healthy” says Lentino. “If you walk your dog just 30 minutes a day, you can meet national recommendations for physical activity.”
Study on Dog Walking
Lentino performed a comprehensive study with more than 916 participants. 380 of the participants didn’t have a dog. 399 of the participants were dog owners who took regular walks with their dogs. Finally, 137 of the 916 were dog owners who didn’t take their dogs on regular walks.
Not only did their research uncover all of the above health stats for NON dog walkers, their findings also included some very eye opening comparisons for those who did in fact go on regular walks with their dogs.
- Those in the dog walkers group were 30% less likely to have high cholesterol
- They were 11% less likely to use tobacco products
- Had only 1/3 the risk of getting Diabetes compared to the non-walking group!
These are all pretty significant findings, in my book.
Dog Walking and Stress
There is one point I’d like to make, from my own personal experience. I’d like to emphasize that dog walking is such a great activity for mental decompression.
We all have some level of stress in our lives- dogs and people, both. If you don’t have any stress at all, there’s a pretty good chance you are no longer with us and have moved on to the old pearly gates in the sky- in which case, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article!
My wife and I have 2 dogs. We care about our four-legged family members just like they were our children. One thing we learned years ago, was just how much better behaved our dogs are, and how much reduced their energy levels are, when they get walks at least 2 times each day. The difference is almost staggering.
Life is a Beach… A Two Way Beach
Another thing we realized about being puppy parents is that when our dogs are happy…we are happy! As much as we love our dogs, let me be the first to say that they can definitely test your bounds and patience levels, much like children can.
When we began walking them on a day to day basis, an interesting thing occurred. We realized that not only did our dog’s stress level seem to dramatically reduce, but so did our own stress levels.
Almost overnight, we began feeling the difference, especially after our evening walks. It basically became a sort of structured end of day family activity for us. It became a wonderful and relaxing way to enjoy time together and to enjoy the outdoors too.
We’ve continued this habit for several years now. Am I physically healthier as a direct result of this activity? I can’t honestly say since I have no before and after health stats to compare. But, my guess would be a solid yes. I know from monitoring the dreaded scale that when I slack off on our dog walking ritual, the numbers on the scale seem to magically start going up a little.
What I can tell you for sure is that the 4 of us are much happier as a result of dog walking together. And if more happiness were the only benefit of dog walking (which it isn’t), it would be reason enough for me to continue.
If you are willing and able I would highly recommend considering making it a part of your life as well.
Dog Rescue and Adoption
On a very personal level, I would like to strongly recommend considering dog fostering and/or dog adoption for your family. There are countless numbers of loving dogs out there just waiting for caring homes.
Both of our dogs were rescue dogs. I can’t even imagine the situation they would be in today if we hadn’t brought them into our home. They are both incredibly loving and grateful family members.
If you are considering fostering or adopting a dog in need, visit the website for Lucky Pup Rescue. They are an amazing organization and some of the most caring and dedicated dog lovers you’ll ever meet.
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