Regular daily walking isn’t just good for the health and happiness of dogs. It’s good for pet parents too! Here are five health benefits of walking to share with clients to help inspire them during Walk Your Dog Month and support the continued health of their pets and themselves.
January hardly seems like the ideal time for Walk Your Dog Month. Given the cold, snow, and generally gloomy weather, January can easily feel like a month better suited to tucking in with Netflix and pizza. And walking your dog can understandably feel like something to get done as fast as possible. Yet your furry family member needs regular daily exercise no matter what the weather. Barring any medical condition that may preclude regular activity for your dog, daily exercise like a walk around the block helps keep dogs fit, healthy, and happy, and has tremendous health benefits for people as well.
Here are five of them to get inspired during Walk Your Dog Month and support the continued health of your pet and you:
Walking Helps Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer
In a recent study involving 73,615 postmenopausal women in the American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, women who reported walking just seven hours per week had a 14% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who walked three or fewer hours per week. While the study couldn’t definitively pinpoint how exercise might reduce the risk of breast cancer, researchers noted that physical activity helps regulate hormones like estrogen, which can fuel breast cancer growth.
Walking Burns Calories and Helps Weight Maintenance
If your New Year resolutions included slimming down and getting fitter, walking is a simple and easy way to keep your goals on track. According to the Mayo Clinic, by adding 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine (or, about the same time as a short dog-walk), you could burn roughly 150 extra calories per day.
Walking Helps Ease Joint Pain
In studies involving 163 adults with arthritis, those who participated in the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease Program for six weeks had less arthritic pain, felt less depressed, and had less health distress than adults who didn’t participate in the walking program. And according to Harvard Medical School, walking five to six miles per week can even help prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking helps protect the joints (especially the knees and hips, which are highly susceptible to osteoarthritis) by lubricating joints and strengthening the muscles that support them.
Walking Helps Boost Immune Function
If you like the idea of breezing through cold-and-flu season without getting sick, walking has been shown to be a strong preventive. According to studies by the AppState NCRC Human Performance Lab, 30 minutes of brisk walking increased the circulation of NK cells (natural killer cells), white blood cells, and other immune system warriors that destroy illness-causing pathogens like influenza viruses. In similar findings published by Harvard Medical School, a study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least five days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or not at all. And if they did get sick, they experienced milder symptoms of illness and recovered faster.
Walking Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
Daily walks have been shown to help lower high blood pressure (HBP) and, by association, HBP-related health risks like heart disease and stroke. In recent studies published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PeerJ, 529 people participating in six months of supervised walking all saw reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP), with the largest reductions in pressure occurring in individuals with higher baseline SBP. Similarly, the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity like dog-walking (done five days a week) to help lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.
So, there you have it—five big benefits to help motivate you to participate in Walk Your Dog Month and begin a cycle of health and happiness for your pet and you.
Please note: While moderate activities like walking generally pose little health risk to most people,if you have a medical condition, you would be well-advised to check with your doctor before beginning any new physical activity.