Four Health Benefits of Walks with Your Dog

Heartworm Prevention

All dogs need plenty of regular exercise in order to keep themselves healthy and happy. Not only do daily walks give your canine best friend an opportunity to go to the toilet away from your home, but they are also essential for their general wellbeing. Walking helps to keep their weight under control, their muscles strong and their brains active. All of these can contribute towards a long, healthy, and fulfilling life. But it isn’t only our dogs who can reap the benefits of daily walks. You’ll soon find that taking your furry pal out each day has some health benefits for you too.

Daily walks will increase your physical fitness

Who doesn’t want to be a little fitter? Countless people make a new year’s resolution to improve their fitness and owning a dog could be the key to success. With your furbaby reliant on you to take them out, you’ll have the motivation that you need to stick to daily walks long enough to start to see the benefits, and once you do, there will be no stopping either of you!

One of the best things about walking is that you don’t even have to be particularly fit to do it. Even people who are just starting out doing regular exercise for the first time can start with very small walks and build up their ability to walk for further and longer. It’s low impact, which means that it won’t cause damage to your joints, and over time, it will actually strengthen your muscles which will make it increasingly easier for you to improve on your speed and distance.

Daily walks are good for your mental health

Mental health problems are no longer the taboo subject that they once were, and over the last year especially, maintaining good mental health is more important than ever. Owning a dog has been proven to be a game-changer where improving mental health is concerned. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, your dog is entirely dependent on you as their owner to provide for them. This should motivate you to do your very best with them. Secondly, dogs provide excellent companionship, and your furry friend will love you unconditionally, even when you don’t much feel like loving yourself. And finally, your dog requires walking, and this forces you out of the house – something which is a huge barrier to many people with mental health issues. Your home is your safe space, and leaving it can be scary, but with a dog, you have no choice. Your canine companion will provide great company for you, while the physical activity of walking will release endorphins in your brain that reduce your stress levels, improve your mood and boost your energy, helping to counteract your negative thoughts.

Daily walks will help you to sleep better

Many dogs come home from a good walk and enjoy curling up for a recuperating nap. While owners generally don’t need to come home and sleep right away, if you are going out walking with your dog every day, you should start to notice that you are feeling more tired at the end of the day. Studies show that achieving just 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise each day can help people to achieve deeper, more restful sleep.

There’s a range of health benefits associated with better sleep too. People who get the recommended amount of sleep (7 to 9 hours per night for the average adult) each night tend to function better during the day, are less likely to suffer from anxiety, mood swings, and depression, and have more energy in the day. People who are sleep deprived can experience physical effects too, like headaches, burning eyes, aches and pains, and daytime fatigue, but by ensuring that you get enough sleep, you can avoid many of these issues.

Daily walks can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease

Studies estimate that nearly half of all U.S. adults have some form of cardiovascular disease – a shocking statistic and a number that is estimated to increase over the coming decade. Cardiovascular diseases occur when the heart has difficulty pumping blood around the body, causing issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even heart failure. Exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of preventing cardiovascular diseases. This is because physical activity increases our heart rate and lowers our blood pressure, reducing the risk of blockages and other life-threatening issues. Walking also helps to keep our weight under control, which is very beneficial since people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience health complications that include cardiovascular disease.

Before you start walking…

When walking with your dog there are a few important things to think about. Firstly, you’ll need to remember to take some supplies with you. Depending on how far you intend to walk, you could need water, a collapsible water dish, and some snacks for your dog. You’ll also need to make sure that they have an appropriate harness or leash. And no matter how far you are walking, you’ll need to take some poop bags with you so that you can clear up behind your pet.

You should also pay close attention to the weather and temperature. Most dogs will happily walk in the majority of weather conditions. However, if it a hot, summer’s day, you’ll need to check the temperature of the ground before you head out to make sure that it’s not too hot. If you can rest the back of your hands on the ground for 10 seconds without pulling it away, you’re good to go. If it’s too hot for your hands, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. If it’s very cold or wet out, consider buying some booties to protect your dog’s paws.

For more information about the health benefits of walking with your dog, don’t hesitate to speak to our veterinary team.