Your Four-Legged Personal Trainer

Looking for a surefire way to find the motivation for exercise? Something that reminds you daily to get moving so you can stay happy and healthy–without the perceived effort? An activity that works for most Baby Boomers and older adults?

Me and my grand-dogs. Who's walking who?
My grand-dogs and I. Who’s walking whom?

The surprising answer–get yourself a dog! Don’t believe me? Read on!!!

A National Celebration!
February 22 is National Walk Your Dog Day. While most dog owners don’t need an excuse to get out with their four-legged companions, this is a good time to reflect on the many benefits of dog ownership–for both you and your puppy!

Approximately 37% – 46% of U.S. households own a dog. Baby Boomers (comprising 37% of pet owners) are still quite active with their animals. And while pet ownership traditionally goes down with increasing age, I do see a good number of folks walking their dogs in 50+ neighborhoods, as well as independent and assisted-living communities.

Fido Benefits
Walking your dog produces many perks for him or her. Daily exercise helps create a bond and trust between the two of you. It lets animals blow off energy, helping calm them and decreasing destructive behavior such as digging and chewing.

Physical benefits include reducing obesity (about half of our dogs are too heavy), strengthening hearts, aiding in digestion and helping relieve constipation. Diabetes is a problem with many dogs, and walking helps control blood sugar.

People Benefits
Walking a dog also conveys many health benefits to the owner, both physical and mental. And talk about a motivating force for success, a study by Michigan State University found that dog walkers are 34% more likely to meet the recommended exercise minutes each week!

Here are a few of the proven benefits of walking dogs:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Improved immune system
• Less obesity
• It’s a great ice breaker, as dog walkers are viewed as approachable and friendly

Simply stroking an animal can reduce the physiological indicators of stress (think: blood pressure). And the unconditional love from pets conveys a sense of increased self-esteem.

For seniors, dogs provide constant companionship, and are sometimes viewed as an older person’s only friend. Senior dog owners spend an average of 1.4 hours daily outside with their pet, reaping the cardiovascular benefits of walking. Older dog owners have lower levels of depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure and decreased heart rate (a sign of cardiac health).

Put a Plan In Place
As with other positive behaviors, plan for a successful dog walking program by establishing a routine and scheduling the activity into your day. Again, you can walk for 30 minutes at a time or three 10-minute bouts. Track your progress and reward yourself and your furry buddy after a job well done. Your dog will love you!

If you’re looking for other ways to exercise successfully, give me a call!

We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

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