Walkies – it’s time to take your human for a walk

dog takin his human for a walkGrowing up, the evening ritual involved my Dad coming home from work around 5 pm. He always stopped to have a cup of tea and then it was walkies time.

The dogs knew it – it was the highlight of their day.

He would simply grab the leads as he exited the kitchen, pick up his big stick and amble down to the gate, with the dogs in tow.

As a little girl I loved to accompany them on the stroll round the neighbourhood . It was the time I really got to “talk” to my Dad. Think I did most of the talking, but it was our special time – it was during those conversations my father imparted his love for the natural world and stirred up a desire to follow a science career.

I miss him and those walks.

I never considered those walks to be human exercise – the objective was to exercise the dogs.

Dog walking is exercise

The dog walking routine was primarily to allow the dogs to stretch their legs and add value to our furry friends

They were given an opportunity to sniff and pee behind as many trees and lamp posts as they could, while “chatting” with their friends and rivals.

Researchers from Michigan State University believe it’s time to reframe the concept of taking the dog for a walk.

The dog is taking YOU for a walk

Using data collected as part of an annual health survey, the researchers discovered dog ownership is a good health habit.

Everyone knows moving is good for your health. Officially you’re supposed to engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, so pounding the pavement with Fido is a move in the right direction.

Owning a dog leads to an increase in overall physical activity.

There is owning a dog and there is owning a dog

If your hound is merely a house accessory, which you simply keep fed and watered, then the only health benefit you may be getting is protection from minor intruders.

The health benefit requires active interaction with your canine.

Dog walking stats

People who walked their dog(s), two-thirds of the people included in the study, generally walked about an hour longer each week – this translates to lots of extra steps in itself.

But, dog walkers in general, tended to be more active beyond the walkies sessions and emotionally better off to boot.

Go walkies NOW !

Go on, put the tackies on, fish out the lead. And find the dog or borrow the dog from next door.

Warning – don’t be put off if you can’t find the dog. Dogs not accustomed to walking will assume they are going to the vet, so they will initially go into hiding. You can teach an old dog new tricks – just persist. Few dogs don’t enjoy a romp round the neighbourhood.

PS. If you or the dog are a little out of shape – take it easy. A dog can also suffer a heart attack.

PSS. Watch your personal security too. Don’t assume the dog will protect you – they’re often big cowards, at the sign of trouble they vanish.

The Impact of Dog Walking on Leisure-Time Physical Activity: Results From a Population-Based Survey of Michigan Adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011; 8 (3): 436-444. Mathew J. Reeves, Ann P. Rafferty, Corinne E. Miller, Sarah K. Lyon-Callo.

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