Surprising Reasons Why You Should Walk Your Dog
Why Should I Walk My Dog?
There can be little doubt that dogs absolutely love going for a walk. The mere mention of the word sends a pulse of excitement through the air as the dog's tail will begin to wag relentlessly and they start to furiously pace to and fro. This is usually followed by a whine and squeal as soon as they see their leash. Such excitement and glee cannot be mistaken . . . dogs love to go for a walk! Nevertheless, we all know that going for a walk does not just involve the dog, it includes the owner as well. While numerous people have discovered the inherent joys of dog walking, there are still many more who have not. After a long, hard day at work, the thought of lacing up the hiking boots to take Fido out for his daily stroll is not always met with unbridled enthusiasm. In truth, the question which some dog owners ask is, why should I walk my dog? What's in it for me?
1) Great Form of Exercise
We have all heard countless times that physical fitness and proper conditioning is a key factor for good overall human health. Most of us have been exposed to this message since health class in primary school, and are bombarded with it by the media every single day. In short, regular physical exercise will improve the quality and duration of a person's life. An excellent form of exercise which has numerous physical benefits is walking. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, walking can:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Lower the risk of obesity
- Improve blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of diabetes
- Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
If that was not convincing enough, further studies have shown that regular walking for exercise can add seven years to the typical human lifespan! When you consider all of these significant health benefits, it becomes quite clear why walking the dog is such a rewarding and beneficial activity for people. So, you ask, why should I walk my dog? For the sake of your physical health!
2) Dog Walking Is Easy on the Body
There are many individuals who cannot perform any type of rigorous physical activity due to medical restrictions. There are still others who have let themselves fall so far out of shape that they are looking for a realistic and less strenuous way to find their path back to physical fitness. This is where dog walking comes in! Walking is a low impact and easy exercise for the majority of people. It is also a safer form of exercise for individuals who need to get moving but have significant health concerns which are holding them back. If a person has bad knees or joints, walking is a much more realistic and appropriate choice than other types of high impact and vigorous exercise. Taking the dog for a walk is a natural and safer way to find the way back to physical fitness. Why should I walk my dog? For the sake of your body!
Generating the willpower and motivation to exercise regularly is no easy feat. Many people will simply skip physical exercise in favor of more comfortable and relaxing alternatives. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, 75% of Americans do not exercise regularly, which in turn puts their health at risk. This is, once again, where our four-legged friends come to the rescue. There is little doubt that the vast majority of people want what is best for their pet. Combine this with the proven fact that regular walks are clearly good for the physical and mental welfare of our dogs, and we have a solid reason to go for a walk. While we may not always be willing to do what is best for ourselves, we will certainly do it for our beloved pets. Our dogs provide us with the key push and motivation to get up off the couch and go for that much-needed walk. Why should I walk my dog? For the sake of your pet!
4) Time and Money
Up until this point, the vital importance of physical exercise to sound human health has been revealed. Nevertheless, many individuals choose to ignore this fact by not exercising and will frequently blame the lack of time and the high cost of keeping fit for their inactivity. They will claim that there are no spare minutes available during the day for a proper exercise routine, and even if there was, they could not afford fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership. The great news for these people is the fact that they are dog owners and walking the dog is a form of exercise which comes with little to no expense and is a regular part of their scheduled day anyways. Time and money cannot be used as an excuse to skip taking the dog for a walk. This, in turn, will lead to a cheap and timely exercise routine being developed with their furry friend! Why should I walk my dog? Because it makes good fiscal sense!
5) Stress Management
The demanding and fast-paced world that we live in comes with a significant amount of stress and anxiety. This, in turn, has a very harmful impact on our physical and mental health. Walking the dog can significantly alleviate these stressful conditions and act as a very good self-care activity. Research has inexplicably shown that being with your pet dog increases levels of the stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin, and reduces cortisol which is a stress-producing hormone. Further, dogs are excellent therapy animals for people with mental health conditions due to their friendly and affectionate nature which creates a calming effect. When you combine the preceding factors with the endorphin-creating activity of dog walking, you are left with a calmer and less stressed out human owner. Why should I walk my dog? For the sake of your mental health!
6) Mood-Boosting Happiness
While walking the dog can significantly reduce stress, it can also enhance your mood and genuine feelings of happiness. Walking the dog can actually increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain. Also, there has actually been a series of studies conducted which have found dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those who do not own a dog. Other than the chemical and hormonal impact, dogs provide companionship. Taking the dog for a walk is a great way to have a pleasurable and happy escape from the troubles of the day. Why should I walk my dog? For the sake of your own happiness!
Human beings are naturally social creatures. While that may be the case, it does not mean that everyone finds it easy to make friends and socialize with others. However, when taking the dog for a walk, an individual will instantly be exposed to other dog walkers who share a similar interest. Dog walking will become a very social event with conversations being struck in regards to such topics as dog breeds, appearance, and training tips. Not only is it a great opportunity (and excuse) to engage with others, it will actually form a sense of community to which the person can belong. There are even dog walking clubs and dog-friendly communities which seek to bring dog owners together. Shy by nature or not, walking the dog can be a very social event which can lead to new friendships and a newfound sense of belonging. Why should I walk my dog? So you can make new friends!
8) Better Behavior
When considering pet ownership, a question which comes to mind is how does a better-behaved dog meet my own somewhat selfish interests? The answer is pretty simple, really. A dog which is happy, fulfilled, and balanced, will be a better-behaved dog. Dog walking not only presents the opportunity to help your dog burn off that excess energy that they have building up, but also allows the owner to seek teachable training moments for their pet. A frustrated and neglected dog will wreak havoc on a household and that is not good for anyone. Walking the dog can help alleviate hyperactivity and destructive behavior in a dog which will make dog ownership a much more pleasurable experience. Why should I walk my dog? So it is better behaved!
If you have ever wondered why walking the dog could possibly be so important, the hope is that there are now some clear answers to that question. The many benefits of dog walking for the human owners and dogs themselves have clearly been shown, from providing a valuable and economical form of exercise to creating a happier home for all. While it may be hard to garner up the energy and enthusiasm to go for a walk some days, our guess is that one look at the excitement on your dog's face will help you to discover the true joy of walking the dog!
9 Great Dog Walking Trails in the United States
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenessee
- Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
- Biltmore Estate, North Carolina
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Fairmount Park, Pennsylvania
- Lake Dorothy, Washington
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- North Cascades National Park, Washington
- Runyon Canyon Park, Hollywood
- The Benefits of Walking. American Heart Association. 2011
- New Study: Daily Walk Can Add 7 Years to your Life. Dr. Mercola. Fitness Peak. 2011
- Centers for Disease Control. 2013
- Dogs Help Humans Reduce Stress. AnimalSmart.org
- Mood-Boosting Power of Dogs. HelpGuide.org.