Walking is an activity that is pretty much accessible to everyone, and it doesn’t require special training or expensive equipment. If inactivity is one of the greatest contributors to our obesity epidemic, walking has to be the perfect and easiest solution. It’s the ideal activity if you haven’t exercised in a while, as you can start off gradually and build up your distance at your own pace. What’s more, walking is safe too, so you are unlikely to pick up injuries as it is gentle and low-impact.
Therefore, people, just like dogs, need to walk. The benefits aren’t confined to weight management only, walking regularly can boost your overall health. But, before we move on to showing how you and your dog can get a beautiful walking experience toghether, let’s look at the physical and mental benefits of walking in general.
Physical Benefits of Walking
Walking is such an underrated form of exercise! In the fight against fat, many people think that something as simple and easy as walking can’t possibly be as effective as jogging, cycling or swimming, but it actually is. Studies show that walking at a moderate pace for only 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is just as beneficial as more vigorous exercise.
Here are the main physical benefits that walking provides:
- Circulation is improved leading to a better performance of the heart and lungs.
- Blood pressure is lowered.
- The likelihood of developing chronic health problems such as heart disease is diminished.
- Breathing problems, including asthma, are alleviated.
- Walking is a light load-bearing activity and therefore helps protect against osteoporosis.
- Weight gain is controlled which in turn helps prevent Type 2 diabetes
- Gentle exercise may help prevent certain cancers, including colon, breast and lung cancers.
- Walking aids flexibility and strengthens muscles, bones and joints.
- Provides a natural boost to the immune system.
- Lowers “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and raises “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
Mental Benefits of Walking
It’s not just your physical health that improves with regular walking. You can expect an improvement in your state of mind too. Exercise is great for lifting the mood, and fighting depression and anxiety because, as you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger positive feelings in your brain.
Endorphins can help you to:[custom_list type=”check”]
- Cope with stress.
- Alleviate anxiety and depression.
- Boost energy levels and motivation.
- Improve sleep.
What Walking with Your Dog Does for You
As you can see, for such a simple, accessible and safe activity, walking provides a wealth of benefits. And what a better way to do it than with your best friend, your dog.
To reap the rewards of walking, all you need to do is commit to a regular walking routine and your dog provides you with the best excuse. You can start out slowly, and then gradually build up to the recommended 30 minutes a day at a brisk pace (thinking of it another way, aim for 10,000 steps a day). This provides a perfect aerobic workout.
You also deserve to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day. And sometimes you might think that the best way to achieve that is to sit in front of the TV while your dog amuses himself in the yard. But how about trying something new! Take him out and let his mind work; the great thing is that, while his brain is stimulated by a walk, gentle exercise will help yours wind down too.
In addition, as your health and fitness improve, you are likely to experience a boost to your self‐esteem and confidence. Expect to make some new friends too – dog walkers love to stop and swap notes! All exercise will help your body manufacture endorphins, but recent studies show that the mental benefits of exercise are further enhanced if your activity takes place outdoors. Another great reason for you to step out!
Don’t assume that walking the dog has to stop when you get older. In fact, seniors can gain even more benefits from dog walking. Walking with a dog has been shown to be the only activity that helps seniors improve their walking pace. That’s great news for their health, but studies also show that it’s great for their overall lifestyle too; an ability to sustain fast paced walking is the single best predictor for maintaining independence in the elderly!
The benefits of walking seem so clear-cut and easy to achieve that it’s a shame that most of us don’t do it. Motivation is possibly what’s lacking for many of us. If you are a dog owner, you have the perfect training partner on hand. Dogs love to walk, so you have a willing companion by your side every step of the way, and you also have a perfect excuse for getting out on the road together.
What if you don’t have a dog?
Often people feel self-conscious and a little wary of walking on their own. Don’t miss out on all these great health benefits; why not consider borrowing a dog? There are shelters all over the country with dogs that are longing to accompany you on a walk. Make sure you check out our Community section to see how you can get more information about such activities.
You cand find out more about the benefits of walking by visiting DrTheresa.com