Fight Sedentarism Alongside Your Dog!
Around 20 million adults in the UK are insufficiently active, which increases the likelihood of heart and circulatory disease and premature death, significantly. More women (11.8 million) than men (8.3 million) lead sedentary lifestyles, and the issue is particularly dire in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. The health implications are vast, yet the good news is that engaging in regular physical activity (such as going for a brisk walk with your dog) can reduce your chances of coronary heart disease and stroke by 35%, and your risk of early death by 30%. This is good news for Fido as well, since he needs his daily walk to stay healthy. If we’re not getting off the sofa, chances are, neither is he… and the result is more than half of pets are overweight and under-exercised.
The Obvious and Hidden Benefits of Dog Walking
Healthy dogs benefit greatly from a one-hour walk daily; indeed, canine experts state that vigorous exercise is important as much for our dog’s physical health as for his mental wellbeing. In just 40 minutes, you can burn up to 220 calories! That is more or less the number of calories in a cheeseburger, while your dog can burn around 65 calories per hour – not bad considering his portions are smaller than yours! This means that regular walking can form an important part of a weight loss regimen, which is good news if your pet has packed on a few kilos of late.
There are deeper benefits to walking, of course, including better sleep. One recent study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week provides a 65% increment in quality of sleep! If you enjoy co-sleeping with your pooch, all the better! Studies have shown that snoozing in the same room as your dog (but not the same bed) improves the quality of your zzzs, owing to the sense of security and companionship that dogs bestow. Of course, even if you do allow your pooch into your bed, an energetic walk will ensure he is exhausted enough to snore away for hours, which means he will be far less likely to wake you up by whimpering or moving incessantly in and out of the blanket!
The Powerful Effects of Nature on the Mind
Did you know that simply contemplating an image of natural scenery improves work productivity, or that a walk in a green setting dramatically lowers levels of stress hormone, cortisol? Our obsession with gadgets and lack of time have led us to adopt an increasingly indoors-focused lifestyle, yet doctors and scientists alike warn of the importance of strengthening our vital bond with nature.
Research indicates that exercise in the Great Outdoors is actually more pleasurable than working out indoors or at a gym; having a dog can therefore help us improve our mood while fighting obesity and the serious effects of spending too much time sitting down. If you love your pooch like most canine ‘owners’ do, consider that a daily walk will also extend his health and wellbeing… here’s to you and your pooch leading a long and healthy life, more of which will hopefully be spent outdoors!