How Dogs Make Us Healthy
Finding time in a hectic work day for self-abuse on a torture contraption in an air-conditioned gym is not easy. Life is so much less traumatic on a comfy sofa.
But there's good news for the reluctant exerciser, a study from George Washington University in the US shows that there is a positive link between owning a pet and personal health.
The study followed 916 people split into three categories: those with dogs who walked them regularly, those with dogs who didn't walk them regularly and those with no dogs. Dog owners who regularly walked their dogs had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than any other group, were generally more active, reported fewer chronic conditions and suffered less depression.
The research showed that there is definitely a relationship between the exercise you do with your pet and the psychological and physical benefits for you. It also showed that people who have physical ailments or have been hospitalised and have a dog at home tend to recover more quickly and are happier with their lives.
Even those without pets can seek out ways to glean some of the health benefits of spending time with dogs. A great way to do this is to offer to walk a friend or neighbours dog whilst they are at work or volunteer as a dog walker for your local rescue centre in your spare time. It might lead to finding the right dog for you!
Before you start thinking about an exercise routine with your pooch, there are some important things to consider. Number one is the kind of dog you have and how compatible they'll be with your routine. Chihuahua's probably won't appreciate you bringing them along on a super long run every day.
However, all dogs, great and small, will appreciate some form of exercise and doing it with you is fun for them. With bigger dogs interval training (walking and then jogging at intervals) is an ideal way for dogs to work out as that's how they naturally run. A dog off their lead will run and then stop and have a sniff break before running off again.
You should also pay close attention to your dog if they have any pre-existing health issues that might be exacerbated by hearty exercise. Dogs can sometimes be so loyal that they'll work themselves to a point of breakdown if you're not paying attention. If your dog is dragging behind a little, limping or he seems to be a little stiff, then take it slower. Their health is important too!
Even if you can't get out for an extended workout, there are a several ways to stay active with your dog indoors there are games that you can play inside that will give you both exercise.
You can play a simple game of fetch, tug-of-war with a rope. Another good choice is hide and seek where one person holds the dog in place while you hide in another room. When the dog finds you, you can give him a toy and play with him excitedly for a few minutes before trying it again.
While you'll get a healthy boost from exercising with your pet, there can be some great benefits for the dog too. Your pet will not only be happier and leaner but he or she may well be better behaved. The old adage of 'A tired dog is a good dog' can be very true. The more energy they expend during exercise and play the less they have for being naughty.
Pet Fitness Coach
Finally, exercising with a dog is a great way to prevent you from relapsing into old habits. Once you get your dog acclimatised to going out for a run or play at a certain time they'll quickly expect it and help you keep up the routine with their anticipation. Dogs are very good at telling time and like to keep to routine. Expect your dog to be more excited at their normal exercise time.
Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is a challenge, and involves coordinating a lot of different elements. There is no one miracle approach waiting to be discovered. What does seem to be true is that having fun is a great motivator. No small wonder that dog walkers tend to be healthier and happier.
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