Developing a regular walking habit brings all sorts of health benefits, both physical and mental. But sticking to a walking routine can be hard sometimes. One day you feel you’re too tired to go for a walk, another day an emergency at work keeps you in the office, and so on. Miss one day, and suddenly it’s easy to miss two days. Next thing you know, you’re struggling to get back to your regular walking schedule.
Here’s a secret weapon you can use to become a walking superstar: get a dog. If you’ve ever been friends with a dog owner, you’ve probably seen them cut a lunch date short, leave a party early or decline an impromptu evening engagement because they have to walk their dog. That’s right, dogs need to go on walks regularly. And a good dog owner knows this and makes it a priority.
Until sometimes you have to wonder, who’s walking who?
Is the human walking the dog? Or is the dog walking the human?
The answer is, delightfully, both.
Getting a dog will force you to go for walks on those days when you lack motivation.
Dog owners will probably tell you that the best benefit of walking with a dog is spending time with their best friend, but there are several health benefits too. The dog serves as a motivator, instigator and coach to get you up and walking. Here are the four ways that walking a dog will benefit your health:
- Increase physical fitness
- Better mental health, especially for those struggling with depression
- Improved sleep
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, with our modern hectic lives, it can be easy to set aside our own need for exercise. Push comes to shove, we move exercise down the priority list. But there’s fido, wagging his tail, looking at you expectantly when you come home.
Paradoxically, when it comes to someone else’s health —yes, even your dog’s— it becomes harder to push it down the priority list. We want to be good caretakers of our pets. So we take them for a walk. And in doing so, voilà, we’ve taken ourselves for a walk.
Not to mention taking a dog for a walk is fun! They’re playful and curious and energetic and eager to get your attention and share their world with you.
Try for yourself. Animal shelters are full of lovably, furry companions waiting to go for a walk — with you. Soon you’ll start looking forward to your walk, instead of dreading it. Hey, you may even want to start cutting out of parties early, because they’re nowhere near as fun as going for a walk with your dog.