Could a Dog Boost Your Health?

Finding the motivation to get out and exercise is not always as easy as it sounds. You may often find that you are short on time, or you may not want to embrace the elements during the colder seasons. Also, you may just not enjoy physical activity very much! Whatever your reasons for avoiding exercise, it is important that you find activities that you do enjoy if you are going to maintain your good health.

Inactivity and Poor Health

Inactivity can quickly lead to poor health as your weight is likely to creep up and your body is unable to enjoy the many benefits of physical activities. Even if you are naturally slim, it is still important that you engage in regular exercise. This is because your body weight is not always representative of fitness or optimum health. For all of these reasons and more, a dog could be your secret weapon on the road to better health!

Dogs and Exercise

Many people, especially older people, find that owning a dog is a great way to motivate themselves to exercise. This is largely because dogs need to go for daily walks. Research has shown that adults who have a strong bond with a dog are more likely to exercise frequently and for longer periods of time than non-pet owners. Walking a dog is generally a stress-free experience and quite pleasurable, making it great for encouraging feelings of peace and calm. 

Benefits of Regular Walking

Going for long walks is a fantastic exercise option for several reasons. First of all, it does not really feel like exercising due to the low intensity of walking. This means that you can enjoy improved health without having to over-exert yourself. Additionally, walking is a very low impact exercise which means there is little risk to your body from doing so. This is good news for your joints, as they can be damaged over time with high impact exercises, such as running. 

Walking requires no special equipment and can literally be done anywhere! For people aged over 60, walking is the most popular physical activity, although it is certainly not limited in its benefits to people in this age group. Embracing this kind of activity early on in life will certainly help to keep you active as you age.

Walking and Body Weight

Going for regular walks will not only help you to maintain a healthy weight, but it will also strengthen your bones and muscles. Walking can also help to improve your balance and coordination. Certain studies have even shown that walking can help to decrease the likelihood of developing a chronic illness - making it clear that the benefits of going for a walk are not to be ignored!

Added Benefits of Dog Walking

Going for a daily walk will soon add up to good things for your health, but going for a daily walk with your dog can promote greater wellness for body and mind. Dogs are incredibly sociable animals, and many dog walkers often find themselves meeting other dog owners when they are out on their walks. This is especially useful for older people who live alone and might find themselves to be slightly isolated.

Deciding to Get a Dog

If a healthcare professional has suggested to you that you may benefit from dog ownership then this is a point that you should certainly take under consideration. You may soon find that you have a new found passion for getting out for lengthy walks regardless of the poor weather. If you find it hard to stay healthy because you have a desk job then coming home to a dog that requires a walk is the perfect way to add some exercise to your day!

There are of course certain things that you should take into consideration before you make the final decision to get a dog. First of all, try to consider whether you will truly have the time to care for your new friend. If you work long hours then it is not ideal to leave your dog alone in the house during this time. However, if you have family members at home during the day who can care for your dog then that’s a great solution.

You will also need to consider if you have the resources to care for your dog. The added costs of food and accessories, such as a lead and various toys can soon add up. You will also need to get your new friend insured in case he or she becomes ill. Veterinary care can be quite expensive, especially in instances where surgery is required. Therefore, finding an adequate insurance policy is always a good idea.

Finally, remember that a dog will generally live between 10 and 15 years. This is a serious commitment, but one that will be quite rewarding for you, your family and your long term health.

References

1) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309358.php

2) http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/getting-started-guides/Pages/getting-started-walking.aspx