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Thursday, June 20, 2019

National Walking Month! 10 Benefits of Walking Your Dog

Photo by Nicki Dugan Pogue (Flickr)

Did you know that May was National Walking Month? We all know that walking is fantastic for our health, helps us enjoy the gorgeous weather, and can give a giant boost to your fitness regimen. Since we all agree that going for a walk is a fantastic idea, let's mix it up a little bit. If you have a canine companion, get them involved! While we don't have a dog, my girls sometimes offer to walk our neighbors' dogs; they enjoy it and sometimes make a few bucks, too. What's not to love about getting out in the fresh air with a furry friend? The pup will thank you, and let's not forget about the rewards for humans.

  1. Make Friends: Studies have shown that people who walk a dog are more engaged with their community. It makes them more likely to meet other neighbors, greet neighbors they come across, and help a neighbor out. I know that in my own community, our local farmers' market and other community events tend to be full of dog-walkers, and a cute four-legged friend makes a great ice-breaker.
  2. Lose Weight: Those walking benefits I mentioned? They certainly don't disappear just because you have a dog in tow. Walking is a proven weight-loss tool, and walking with your dog can help keep you on a consistent schedule, giving you an extra reason to get out the door. Your dog can even help you set a good pace.
  3. Stay Loose: This benefit is for both dogs and humans. As humans and canines alike get older, joints and muscles can become stiff. Walking is a gentle but vigorous way to stretch and exercise those joints in a low-impact way that won't cause damage to the joints of you or your dog.
  4. Keep the Dogs Happy: Dogs really need to be taken out for fresh air and exercise. When they're left inside for long periods with limited fresh air, they can become depressed, anxious, and bored. This may lead them to destroy furniture and other objects around your home. To raise a happier dog, spend some quality social time with them while out exercising.
  5. See Something New: Taking regular walks with your dogs can lead to the discovery of some hidden gems in your neighborhood. If you're bored of the same old route, don't be afraid to look for new parks, trails, and other areas that might have escaped your notice.
  6. Go Back to Nature: Going out in nature benefits you and your dog. Exposure to fresh air and sunlight increases overall health as you get more vitamin D, which can improve your mood and lower stress levels.
  7. Make Better Bonds: Spending this regular social time with your dog will give you and your dog an even better bond of friendship. Your dog will really love spending this time with you, and it gives you the chance to practice obedience training with your dog as you work on communication and your dog's ability to listen.
  8. Slim Down the Dogs: We all love to spoil our dogs. We give them treats, leftover scraps, and lots of couch potato time for cuddling. Unfortunately, this has led to a large number of obese dogs. Just like in humans, obesity can cause joint problems and raise the risk of heart disease in dogs. Keep your dog in shape by bringing them out for regular walks.
  9. Improve Digestive Health: Dogs who get to walk regularly take this opportunity for plenty of bathroom breaks. Walking has been shown to lower a dog's risk of urinary tract infections and other digestive issues. Just make sure you bring a bag to clean up after your pup.
  10. Get a Healthy Reward: It's clear that going out for regular walks with your dog has some incredible benefits. But how many times have you gone out for a solo walk and then rewarded yourself with a little treat? After all, you deserve a cookie after all of that hard work. You'll find that when you walk with your dog, their excitement is contagious. A tired and happy dog and human reward each other with hugs, pets, and an endorphin rush that's totally calorie-free.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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