It’s been shown that 80 percent of all New Year’s Resolutions fail by February 1. Which means if your resolution – like so many of us – was to get into shape by walking more, you’ve probably already given up. However, a daily walk has so many benefits for you and your dog that we urge you to not give up. Even if it’s just a twenty-minute stroll around the block, at least it gets you moving. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 of the 10 leading risk factors of death worldwide is “insufficient physical activity.” To encourage you to stay with your walking plan, here are just a few of the benefits it will give both you and your dog.
1 – Longer Lifespan
According to a study by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) presented at a past Congress, a daily walk can add 5-7 years onto a person’s life. Optimally you should be walking 10,000 steps a day, though they do not have to be done all at once. So, if you take your pup to go potty at least three times a day, you have ample time to get your steps in. It is believed that daily exercise will also help your dog live longer. And that longer life will be healthier as well.
2 – Grounding
Live by one of our gorgeous beaches? If you can incorporate barefooted walking into your regime, you will get even more out of your walk than prolonged life. Grounding (or Earthing) is when your body makes contact with the Earth and thereby absorbs electrons from its surface. These electrons are vital for our health and yet most of us do not get them once we grow past the age of running barefoot in the grass. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012, benefits include:
* Relief from sleep dysfunctions including apnea
* Reduction in stress and tension
* Reduced PMS
* Relief from rheumatoid arthritis
* Boosts to the immune system
* Higher energy levels
* Reduction of asthma and other respiratory conditions
* Relief from chronic muscle and joint pain
3 – Weight Loss
Of course, walking can help you reach your weight loss goals. Losing weight comes with a host of benefits, and it’s something we share with our dogs. Your dog can benefit from shedding a few extra pounds in the same way most of us can. It helps take pressure of joints and reduce the risk of arthritis. Losing excess weight will also reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, respiratory issues and liver dysfunction, to name a few.
4 – Sunlight
As living creatures, we all need sunshine. The sun’s rays gives us vitamins and triggers the release of serotonin, which keeps us happy, calm and focused. Your dog also needs these same vitamins and serotonin to stay healthy. And, something for us humans that you don’t hear very often – limited amounts of sunshine actually prevents cancer. In fact, a study by Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who live in darker parts of the world, and therefore get less sunshine, are more like to have colon, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
5 – Healthier Joints
“A body in motion, stays in motion.” While Newton may have been thinking more about apples than people when he came up with this, it is definitely true of our bodies. In order to keep our joints and muscles from becoming brittle and inflexible as we get older, we need to use them. Even if you not able to run or bike due to bad joints, a daily walk is essential to keeping your joints from getting worse. And the same is very true of our dogs. You can help both you and your dog keep need to keep those joints and muscles moving. Remember… Use it or Lose It!
6 – Mental Stimulation
For dogs, getting out on a daily walk provides much need mental stimulation. It allows them to hear, see and especially smell new things and animals. A walk will tire your dog out not just physically, but mentally as well and that leads to a better-behaved dog. And, while your dog is getting the stimulation he needs, your brain is getting a break from blue-light screens and fluorescents. I actually find, while walking my dogs, it is a good time to think about whatever is going on in your life at that moment.
7 – Socialization
Getting out on a daily walk, or two, is also very important for socializing your dog. Dogs that get out (especially as puppies!) and have positive interactions with the world around them will be better-adjusted and able to cope with new situations. Dogs that never leave their own backyard are more likely to be fearful in new environments. And they may not like new people coming over to your home. Walking is also a great way for you to meet new people or catch up with friends in person.
8 – Training
Daily walking can help you remember to train your dog, which is also important. It’s easy to work on a nice heel while out for a stroll. Walks are also a great time to work on a recall, a Leave It cue, sit (for example at each curb or street corner) and even stay. It’s a great time to incorporate training into your life that will benefit both you and your dog.