The Health Benefits of Walking Your Dog

For many people one of the most pleasurable things about owning a dog is taking it for walks. Not only does the dog walking bring uncontrollable happiness to your loyal pet, but it’s a great way to get out of the house and spend valuable time in the outdoors. As most of us will spend our day indoors sat at a desk, walking the dog is a well needed escape from the daily grind; a chance to reconnect with nature and the countryside. But did you know that there are numerous health benefits of walking your dog? A recent study has found that on average, dog owners get more exercise from walking their pet than someone with a gym membership. The average dog gets walked twice a day for 24 minutes. This amounts to five hours and 38 minutes of exercise per week – compared to just one hour and 20 minutes for the average gym membership owner. Add to that the average dog owner will take three long walks per week which amounts to a further two hours and 33 minutes. The study of 5,000 Britons, including 3,000 dog owners, found that 57% saw walking the dog as their main form of exercise. Comparatively, almost half of people - 47% per cent - who don’t own a dog admitted to doing no exercise whatsoever. There are numerous health benefits associated with walking regularly for exercise:
  • Strengthens the heart
  • Lowers risk of developing diseases like type 2 Diabetes, asthma and some cancers
  • Weight loss and weight management – a person weighing 60kg will burn 150 calories by walking at 4mph for 30mins.
  • Prevents dementia
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Tones muscle
  • Boosts levels of Vitamin D – spending time outdoors in natural sunlight increases levels of vitamin D
  • Tackling depression – walking releases endorphins (the happy hormone) which have been proven effective at improving bad moods. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking has proven as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression.
Regularly walking your dog is also hugely beneficial for the animal itself. Obesity in dogs is associated with a number of medical complaints including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and insulin resistance, and regular exercise is just as important for your dog as it is for you in maintaining a healthy weight. If you want your pooch to live a long, healthy life, regular walks are a must. They could even save you a large vet bill! If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to walk your dog on a regular basis, setting up a walking plan or schedule is a great way to make the activity part of your daily routine. Here are some tips that will help to ensure you stay on track.
  1. Aim to walk at least 30 minutes in total each day.
  2. Set a time of the day aside for dog walking. Whether that’s early in the morning before work, or in the evening.
  3. Take it in turns to walk the dog with your partner or other family members if you’ve got a busy schedule.
  4. Invest in some good quality walking boots, a waterproof jacket, and a lead and a dog coat so that you’re ready to go in any weather conditions.
  5. Plan numerous routes so they walking doesn’t get monotonous – choose a route for good weather (fields, parks and grass) and one for bad weather (pavements) so that you’re prepared for any eventuality.
  6. Walk together with other dog owners you know so you’ve got company – the walk will be over in no time if you’re chatting, and your dog can make friends!
  7. Make sure you take plastic bags to collect any mess your dog makes along the way.