I admit it, I’m a huge dog lover.  In fact I have three, all rescues ranging from 1 to 4 years of age and there is not one day that goes by that they don’t make me smile at least once.  One of my greatest pleasures of being a dog owner is our daily walks and yet it is quite staggering to me that only half of dog owners walk their dog at least once a day and a whopping 33% admitted that they rarely walk their dogs!

If you didn’t know, it is actually National Walk Your Dog Week from October 1st – 7th so with this in mind I thought I might remind you of the benefits of walking for you and your dog.

A brisk 30 minute walk each day can reduce blood pressure, increase energy, improve your sense of well-being, and lower your weight by 5% and your dog’s by 15%.

It will also strengthen your bond with your dog and improve their socialization.

Walking on your own can be lonely and likewise sitting in the backyard for your dog is equally lonely, whereas taking a walk together is an uplifting experience and will leave you both in a positive frame of mind.

Boredom creates problems. Let’s face it if a child is bored they will go looking for something to do to alleviate the boredom. That can often lead them into doing something that you might not want them to do or that is totally unsafe.  Your dog is no different, a bored dog means only one thing ………. the loss of your favorite pair of shoes or worse still, them eating something that could be harmful to their health.

Health Benefits to You  

  • Walking prevents type 2 diabetes.  The Diabetes Prevention Program showed that walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight (12 – 15 pounds) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58% .
  • Walking strengthens your heart.  In one study, mortality rates among retired men who walked less than one mile per day were nearly twice that among those who walked more than two miles per day.  Women in the Nurse’s Health Study (72,488 female nurses) who walked three hours or more per week reduced their risk of a heart attack or other coronary event by 35% compared with women who did not walk.
  • Walking is good for your brain.  In a study on walking and cognitive function, researchers found that women who walked the equivalent of an easy pace at least 1.5 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than women who walked less than 40 minutes per week.
  • Walking is good for your bones.  Research shows that postmenopausal women who walk approximately one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than women who walk shorter distances, and walking is also effective in slowing the rate of bone loss from the legs.
  • Walking helps alleviate symptoms of depression.  Walking for 30 minutes, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression as measured with a standard depression questionnaire by 47%.
  • Walking reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer.  Women who performed the equivalent of one hour and 15 minutes to two and a half hours per week of brisk walking had an 18% decreased risk of breast cancer compared with inactive women.  Many studies have shown that exercise can prevent colon cancer, and even if an individual person develops colon cancer, the benefits of exercise appear to continue both by increasing quality of life and reducing mortality.
  • Walking improves fitness.  Walking just three times a week for 30 minutes can significantly increase cardiorespiratory fitness.  A study of sedentary women showed that short bouts of brisk walking (three 10-minute walks per day) also resulted in similar improvement in fitness.

Undoubtedly you need to walk at a decent pace to gain health benefits.  A good average walking speed is 3 to 4 miles per hour depending on your leg length and how quickly you can move your legs.  If it has been a long time since you last exercised, you may need to start at a slower pace – but you will soon improve if you walk regularly.

Before you begin:-

  • Check with your doctor.
  • Invest in a good pair of shoes.  As these are the only expense you’ll need, pay attention to the fit and quality of your shoes.  Ensure they do not pinch and wear the socks you will be wearing when you walk to the fitting.
  • Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing.  Walk at a pace that elevates your heart rate, you should be able to hold a conversation whilst walking , if you can’t you are working too hard and should slow down the pace.
  • Use good walking posture.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends keeping your head up, back straight and abdomen flat, point your toes straight ahead and take long strides but don’t strain.
  • Consider getting a pedometer.  You can track the distance you’ve walked or the number of steps you’ve taken.  Seeing improvement is a wonderful source of motivation.
  • Carry water.  If you are walking long distances or in the heat keep your body hydrated by drinking regularly.
  • Stretch after your walk.  Ensure your stretch your calves, quadriceps and hamstrings post work-out to avoid muscular tightness.