Ask Dr. Nandi: The health benefits of walking your dog

Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 17:25:16-04

If you’re a dog lover it may come as no surprise that you reap many health benefits. But what’s the motivating reason you love to walk your dog?

You’d expect the answer to be physical exercise or social interactions. But taking your dog for a walk turns out to be a great way to boost your mental health. 

British researchers found the biggest motivator for taking a doggie stroll came down to happiness. A walk not only made the person feel happy, but owners believed their pets felt happiness too.

If you walked your dog for 22 minutes a day, you’d be over the CDC’s recommended physical activity level of 150 minutes each week. That would be great for your health because past research found regular dog walkers had fewer chronic conditions, less depressive symptoms and a lower BMI. 

Partha’s RX

  1. It’s helpful to create a routine which your dog will absolutely love. Try to take walks at the same time every day.
  2. When you’re out walking, take time to notice your surroundings. It’s a great way to relax, connect with nature and strengthen your sense of well-being.
  3. Build up stamina by taking longer and faster walks.   Your heart and energy levels will benefit even more.
  4. If you don’t have a pet, ask to walk a friend or neighbor’s dog.  Or visit a shelter to see if you can help there.

Older dogs and overweight dogs can be walked and are not excuses to stay home. Start them off slowly and gradually increase the time you’re out with them. Keep an eye on how they act to make sure you don’t over walk them. If you’re worried about their health, talk to your Vet first.