For most of us, exercise can be a drag. Unlike the spirulina smoothie toting Lululemon and Crossfit bros of this world, I am definitely not one to seek out the gym. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how amazing exercise is for me – it’s just that I’m pretty sure there’s a better way. And I think I’ve found it.
The ultimate exercise, approved by a lazy non-exerciser? Walking your dog, of course! Walking your dog can have a whole range of benefits for not only your physical health, but powerful effects on your mental health too. If you count yourself as an exercise-phobic like yours truly, then read on to learn about the amazing benefits that having a dog can bring about, with little effort and a whole lot of fun.
Positive Effects of Exercise
We know that exercise is good for us, in an abstract way sort of way. But why exactly is it so beneficial for our health? Throughout our evolution, up until very recently, humans were built to live very active lives, and they did that out of sheer necessity. That woolly mammoth wasn’t going to catch and grill itself. However, in modern times, with our newly sedentary lifestyle, we don’t get anywhere near as much exercise as we should. Exercise is extremely beneficial for our bodies in many ways.
Some of the positive effects of getting enough exercise include:
- Controls weight. This is a fairly obvious one, however it’s incredibly important to overall health. To avoid problems that can come from carrying excess weight, exercise is key in helping to keep your body at its optimum healthy size.
- Combat health conditions and diseases. Exercise has been proven to be natural cure for a whole host of different diseases and health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. It is a natural and accessible preventative measure that can help you to avoid a trip to the doctor.
- Improves mood. Exercise can increase the stimulation and release of important chemicals in the brain which can help to boost mood. This makes exercise good not only for our bodies, but our minds too.
- Boosts energy. Exercise is beneficial for growing muscles and increasing our metabolisms, which can assist us in feeling more energetic and alert.
- Regulates sleep patterns. Exercise is an excellent way to improve your sleep patterns if you struggle with insomnia, or just with drifting off to sleep sometimes.
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Easy Ways to Exercise
If you’re exercise averse, or you’re re-starting your fitness journey after a long while, then it’s a good idea to ease your way back into the exercise game by beginning with some easy ways to undertake exercise. Throwing yourself into a 45-minute sprinting session the first time you get back into it is just going to put you off, and encourage you to go back to your old exercise-free ways. There are many easy ways to incorporate exercise into your life, and while most are easy, some are even fun! Here’s a guide to getting started.
1. Walk Your Dog
This is by far the best and simplest way to begin reaping the benefits of exercise. By simply fulfilling your pet’s daily exercise needs, you’ll also be fulfilling your own. A walk with your dog is a calming and soothing method of relaxing and clearing your head. Benefits of walking your dog around is a win-win situation.
2. Take the Stairs, aka Using Incidental Exercise to Your Advantage
There are opportunities for gentle physical exercise all around, so take the world up on its challenge. Taking the stairs in place of an elevator or escalator is an excellent way to work more movement into your day, easily. If you’re that person that makes a 5-minute drive to the store, then take the opportunity to turn your errand into a purposeful bit of incidental exercise by walking instead.
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3. Make Physical Activity Fun with Friends or Family
Having the people we love around us can help us to feel happier and more motivated, according to Science. So why not take this knowledge and use it, by recruiting your friends and family to do some gentle exercise with you? Try taking some long walks together, trying a new team sport, or even doing some laps in the ocean together during a day at the beach.
4. Find an Exercise That Doesn’t Feel Like Exercise
Ultimately, the best exercise is one that you enjoy doing, as you’re more likely to continue doing it. If you enjoy hiking in natural, find a way to fit it into your schedule. If you need to work out some stress, perhaps taking up boxing is a good idea. Or if there’s nothing you’d rather do than spend time with your furry friend, then make your dog your exercise partner.
The Benefits of Walking Your Dog (Just 15 minutes a Day Will Do It)
As we mentioned earlier, this has to be one of the best (if not the absolute best!) form of bringing gentle and fun exercise into your life and making it stick. Walking your dogs has numerous benefits for your physical health, but also for you mental health, which we’ll be focusing on here.
Encourages Exercise, Which Rehabilitates the Brain
Exercise is well-known to have positive effects on both the body and the brain, meaning that simply walking regularly can really help in terms of brain chemistry. Added to that is the fact that simply being around pets can also have this effect, meaning that that dog walking is a double whammy of goodness for your mind! Exercise has been shown to have amazing effects in our brain, stimulating the production of feel good hormones such as endorphins. Pets have also been shown to have this effect, responsible for helping to boost our brain’s oxytocin and dopamine levels. This can result in assisting treatment of a range of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Benefits of walking your dog could allow you to add exercise time.
Soothes Anxiety – benefits of walking your dog
One of the most common mental illnesses in our country, anxiety is an awful illness to deal with. But one of the greatest cures is to simply spend time doing things we love and therefore taking our minds off the worry. Having a pet is a great anxiety soother, and taking a walk together is even better. Taking your dog for a walk can be a welcome chance to get into contact with the world outside our own frame of mind, lessening anxiety and assisting us to be in the present moment.
Provides a welcome distraction from negative thoughts
Getting out and about with our pets provides a huge distraction from idle time which can otherwise lead to a cycle of negative or anxious thoughts. Think about it—when you’re out having fun with your pup, your mind is totally occupied with running, playing, meeting other dog friends, and of course, picking up poop. Walking your dog is fun and engaging way to break the cycle of your negative thoughts and enjoy time with your canine bestie.
If you have social anxiety disorder, then it can be difficult to deal with the many social situations that we are faced with on a day to day basis. But walking your dog is a great ‘safe’ social outing, with all the pressure and attention taken off you, and placed squarely on your dog. If you’re experiencing depression, a dog walk can motivate you to leave the house to look after your dog’s needs. Socializing while walking your dog is a total win-win for your mental health and your dog. This is an add-on benefits of walking your dog
While it doesn’t seem like much, walking your dog for just a short amount of time every day can be shockingly good for you. With benefits such as improved mental health, encouragement to socialize, and renewed confidence, having a dog may be even better than eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away. You heard it here first. Looking to make your dog an ESA? Read more here!