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You already know that walking your dog is important. Giving your dog regular exercise helps prevent medical problems down the road. Walking your dog is important for mental stimulation, too; sniffing and socializing are important components of a canine’s day.
Walks also serve as training sessions, helping your dog learn to walk on a leash and politely interact with other dogs and humans (and to leave that empty chip bag in the gutter alone). And if your dog is full of energy, regular walks can also help save your furniture and house!
But walking your dog actually has numerous benefits for you, too. Here are a few of the top ways that taking your dog for a walk benefits you.
Regular brisk walks have been shown to have excellent health benefits for humans in addition to dogs. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help you maintain a healthy weight; prevent or manage health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease; strengthen both your muscles and bones; and help your balance and coordination improve. And the more you walk, the better!
During the winter, walking can even help stave off a cold, Healthline says. A study tracked 1,000 adults during flu season. The adults who walked for 30 to 45 minutes each day ended up having 43 percent fewer sick days and fewer upper respiratory tract infections — and for the adults who did get sick, their symptoms weren’t as bad as the symptoms of the adults who had been sedentary.
For best results, choose a smooth path (avoid uneven concrete), wear supportive shoes, and begin by walking slowly before speeding up. The Mayo Clinic also recommends creating a “walking journal.” Writing down the details of your daily walk — how far you and your dog went, what the weather was like, whether you ran into any friends — can be a fun way to preserve memories and can motivate you to keep up with your walks.
If you bike or run with your dog, even better. Jogging is a great way to improve your joint health and your cardiovascular fitness, whereas cycling is an easy, low-risk workout to increase your stamina.
Being outside has a plethora of benefits, and most people don’t spend nearly enough time in the sunshine and fresh air. Business Insider gives a long list of reasons why being outside is a good idea. For one thing, being outdoors lowers your stress. One study showed a decrease in cortisol levels (a hormone that acts as a marker for stress) in participants who had spent time in the forest instead of the city.
The outdoors can also help fight mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. A study actually showed that outdoor walks could be used as a treatment for major depressive disorder. If you’re exercising while you’re outside, even better: you’ll get double the benefits. Plus, just being around dogs has been shown to relieve stress (think about service dogs who help people with PTSD). So really, you’re getting three times the benefits.
Your dog loves spending time with you better than just about anything in the world (except maybe that box of Milk-Bones in the pantry). Walking your dog is an excellent way to continue to reinforce that lasting bond. This is especially important if you’ve just gotten a new dog. Going for walks will give you and your new pet some interrupted time to adjust to each other and begin to develop a new routine.
And if your new dog is timid or was abused, regular walks are a great way to show him that you won’t hurt him. You’re in charge, but you aren’t going to lead him anywhere scary.
Between the physical health benefits, the mental health benefits, and the fact that you’ll get to bond with your dog, getting the leash and going for a stroll might just might be the best decision you make today.
You can also multitask on your walk — talk on the phone to a friend, listen to music, or get a quote from PetFirst Pet Insurance.
Guest Blogger: Hailey Hudson