In Good Health: The Mutual Benefits of Exercising with Your Dog

Exercising your dog can offer a myriad of benefits for both you and your dog. Regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of various health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Additionally, it can help to improve your mood, energy levels, and overall quality of life. This blog hopes to further explore the mutual benefit gained by owners and their dogs.

Colin Henderson

13 min read

Unleashed Potential: Improving Health With Your Canine Companions

A young dog enjoying exercise in the woods
A young dog enjoying exercise in the woods

Wellness for you and your Dog!

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining good health, and this applies not only to humans but also to our furry friends. According to recent studies, dog owners who regularly exercise their pets tend to be healthier and happier than those who don't. In fact, the health benefits of dog exercise are so significant that some doctors are now recommending it to their patients (1).

The link between dog exercise and human health is clear. When we carry out regular exercise with man's and, woman's, ‘best friend’, both human and dog are less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, and other health problems. However, the benefits of dog exercise go beyond physical health (2). Spending time with your dog can also have a positive impact on mental health, reducing stress and anxiety and improving overall mood.

Key Takeaway

  • Regular exercise is important for both dogs and humans.

  • Dog exercise can help improve physical health, mental health, and social and emotional well-being.

  • Doctors are now recommending dog exercise to patients as a preventative health measure.

Young Pup playing fetch. exercise for you, sleepy dog later
Young Pup playing fetch. exercise for you, sleepy dog later
The Link Between Dog Exercise and Human Health

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health, both for humans and their furry companions. Studies have shown that dog owners who regularly exercise with their pets experience numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, weight management, reduced stress levels and a better quality of sleep (1,2,3,4)

One of the most significant benefits of exercising with your dog is increased physical activity. Dog owners who take their pets for regular walks or runs tend to be more active overall, which can help them maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension (3).

In addition to the physical benefits, exercising with your dog can also improve your mental health. Spending time with your pet can reduce stress levels and improve your overall mood, leading to a more positive outlook on life. The social interaction that comes with exercising with your dog can also help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation(4).

Dog owners who exercise with their pets also tend to be more consistent with their exercise routine. Having a furry companion to motivate you can make it easier to stick to your workout plan and maintain a regular exercise schedule.

Overall, the benefits of exercising with your dog are clear. By incorporating your pet into your exercise routine, you can improve your physical and mental health while strengthening the bond between you and your furry friend (2).

Dog jumping over a branch. Exercising with your dog brings so many health benefits to you both
Dog jumping over a branch. Exercising with your dog brings so many health benefits to you both
Cocker spaniels' love a good run about, perfect running partners
Cocker spaniels' love a good run about, perfect running partners

Physical Health Benefits

Regular exercise is important for both dogs and humans. By exercising your dog, you can also benefit your own physical health. In this section, we will discuss the physical health benefits of exercising your dog.

Weight Control

Exercising your dog can help you maintain a healthy weight. It is important to note that the amount of exercise your dog needs depends on their breed, age, and health status. Regular exercise can help your dog burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. By walking your dog daily, you can also improve your own physical health and fitness by burning calories and maintaining a healthy weight (5, 6).

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Exercising your dog can also improve your cardiovascular health. Walking your dog can help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and improve your overall cardiovascular health. By exercising your dog regularly, you can also improve your own cardiovascular health (3,7).

Strengthened Muscles and Bones

Exercising your dog can also help strengthen your muscles and bones. Walking your dog regularly can help improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility. It can also help prevent osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases. By exercising your dog regularly, you can also improve your own muscle and bone health. In short, exercising your dog can provide numerous physical health benefits for both you and your furry friend. By maintaining a regular exercise routine, you can improve your own physical health while also providing your dog with the exercise they need to stay healthy and happy (4).

Mental Health Advantages

Regular exercise with your furry friend can have numerous benefits for your mental health. The following sub-sections highlight some of these advantages.

Stress Reduction

Exercising with your dog can help reduce stress levels. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals in the body that reduce stress and improve mood. Additionally, spending time with your dog can provide a sense of comfort and companionship, which can also reduce stress (1,2).

Enhanced Mood

Regular exercise with your dog can enhance your mood. Endorphins released during physical activity can create a sense of happiness and euphoria. Additionally, spending time with your dog can provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment, which can also improve mood.

Better Sleep

Exercising with your dog can improve sleep quality. Physical activity can help regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, spending time with your dog can provide a sense of calm and relaxation, which can also improve sleep quality. Bottom line, exercising with your dog can have numerous mental health benefits, including stress reduction, enhanced mood, and better sleep. Regular exercise with your furry friend can be a fun and rewarding way to improve your mental health (4).

Social and Emotional Perks

Regular exercise with your dog can not only benefit your physical health, but it can also have positive social and emotional effects. Here are some of the social and emotional perks of exercising with your furry friend (12).

Increased Social Interaction

Exercising with your dog can be a great way to meet new people and make friends. Whether you're taking your dog for a walk in the park or joining a dog-walking group, you're likely to encounter other dog owners who share your love for pets. This can lead to conversations, socializing, and even the formation of new friendships (8).

short-coated brown dog sit beside person wearing white tank top near beach during daytime
short-coated brown dog sit beside person wearing white tank top near beach during daytime

Strengthened Human-Dog Bond

Exercising with your dog can also strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend. Spending time together, whether it's playing fetch or going for a run, can help build trust and deepen your relationship. Additionally, regular exercise can help reduce your dog's stress and anxiety levels, which can lead to a happier and more well-behaved pet.

Overall, exercising with your dog can have numerous social and emotional benefits for both you and your furry friend. By spending time together and engaging in physical activity, you can strengthen your bond, meet new people, and improve your overall well-being (9,10,11, 12,13,14)

Spending time exercising with your dogs builds closer bonds and increased wellbeing
Spending time exercising with your dogs builds closer bonds and increased wellbeing

Preventative Health Measures

Reduced Risk of Diseases

Exercising your dog regularly can help prevent various diseases that can affect both humans and dogs. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that people who regularly walked their dogs had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and obesity. Additionally, dogs who get regular exercise have a reduced risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic diseases.

Longevity of Life

Regular exercise can also help increase the lifespan of both humans and dogs. A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that dogs who were regularly exercised lived longer than dogs who were not. Additionally, regular exercise can help prevent age-related diseases, such as cognitive decline and arthritis.

Key Takeaway

Exercising your dog can offer a myriad of benefits for both you and your pet. Regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of various health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Additionally, it can help to improve your mood, energy levels, and overall quality of life.

By engaging in physical activity with your dog, you can also strengthen your bond and create a deeper sense of companionship. This can lead to increased feelings of happiness and fulfilment, as well as a greater sense of purpose and responsibility. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine can be a simple and effective way to improve your health and enhance your relationship with your furry friend. Whether you prefer to go for a run, play fetch, or take a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of ways to get moving and enjoy the benefits of exercise with your dog.

Recap & Frequently Asked Questions

What are the health benefits of dogs for humans?

Dogs provide numerous health benefits for humans, including improved physical health, mental health, and social well-being. Regular interaction with dogs has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve cardiovascular health. Additionally, having a dog can increase social interaction and decrease feelings of loneliness and depression.

Why do dogs need daily exercise?

Daily exercise is essential for a dog's physical and mental health. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and improve cardiovascular health. It also helps to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as prevent destructive behavior's that can result from boredom and excess energy.

What are the benefits of walking your dog in the morning?

It can help to start your day off on the right foot by promoting physical activity and reducing stress. Additionally, morning walks can help to establish a routine for your dog, which can help to reduce anxiety and improve behaviour throughout the day.

What are the benefits of walking your dog at night?

Walking your dog at night can also provide numerous benefits. It can help to burn off excess energy before bedtime, which can lead to better sleep for both you and your pet. Additionally, nighttime walks can provide a peaceful and calming environment, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety. However, it is important to ensure that you and your dog are visible and safe while walking at night.

Common objections

We have established that regular exercise is crucial for maintaining good health, not just for us but for our furry companions as well. Dog owners who prioritise regular exercise for their pets are not only healthier but also happier than those who don't (8). The health benefits of dog exercise have become so evident that some doctors are now recommending it to their patients as a preventative measure.

Now, let's address some common objections and concerns that may arise when it comes to incorporating dog exercise into our lives (4).

1. Lack of Time

I understand that life can get busy, and finding time to exercise can be challenging. However, incorporating your dog into your exercise routine can actually save you time. Instead of having to set aside separate time for your workout and walking or playing with your dog, you can combine the two. This way, both you and your pet can benefit from physical activity without additional time commitment.

2. Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions can be a valid concern when it comes to exercising with your dog. However, there are ways to overcome this challenge. On rainy days, you can engage in indoor activities such as playing fetch or training your dog new tricks. On extremely hot or chilly days, it's important to adjust the duration and intensity of the exercise, making sure to provide breaks and plenty of water for both you and your furry friend.

3. Lack of Motivation

We all struggle with staying motivated at times, but having a furry companion can be a major source of motivation. Dogs are natural exercise enthusiasts, and they thrive on physical activity. Their enthusiasm and joy can inspire and encourage you to make exercise a regular part of your routine. Plus, you'll have the bonus of spending quality time and strengthening the bond with your beloved pet.

4. Health Limitations

If you or your dog have health limitations that make certain types of exercise challenging, it's essential to consult with your doctor or veterinarian. They can provide guidance on exercises that are safe and suitable for both you and your furry friend. There are plenty of low-impact options, such as swimming or gentle walks, that can be beneficial for dogs and humans alike.

5. Lack of Interest

Sometimes, it's difficult to find an exercise routine that you and your dog both enjoy. However, variety is key. Try different activities such as hiking, agility training, or even joining a dog-walking group. Experimenting with different exercises will not only keep both you and your pet engaged but also ensure that you're reaping the maximum benefits of physical activity.

The benefits of exercising with your dog are undeniable. By addressing common objections and incorporating dog exercise into your routine, you can improve your physical and mental health while nurturing a stronger bond with your furry friend. Don't let obstacles hold you back – embrace the opportunity to make exercise a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your pet. Remember, a healthier, happier life awaits both of you!

Recommended exercise activities and times for the 10 most common breeds of dogs in the UK,

1. Cocker Spaniel:

Cocker spaniels are highly energetic and intelligent dogs that require a good amount of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. Aim for at least 1-2 hours of exercise daily, divided into multiple sessions. Engage them in activities like long walks, jogging, agility training, and interactive games such as fetch, which will help burn off their excess energy and stimulate their minds.

2. Labrador Retriever:

Labradors are known for their friendly nature and love for physical activities. They require around 1-2 hours of exercise each day to keep them content. Regular walks, swimming, playing fetch, and obedience training are ideal for labs. Their playful and social personality makes them excellent companions for outdoor adventures.

3. Staffordshire Bull Terrier:

Staffies are muscular and active dogs that thrive on exercise and playtime. They should receive at least 1 hour of intense exercise each day. Engaging them in games like tug of war, hide and seek, and training activities will stimulate their mental and physical abilities. Regular walks and interacting with other dogs will also keep them happy.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

Being a smaller breed doesn't mean Cavaliers require less exercise. Aim for around 30-45 minutes of exercise daily. Regular walks, gentle runs, and playtime in a securely enclosed area are important. They also enjoy activities like obedience training, working on tricks, or joining you in canine sports such as agility or flyball.

5. German Shepherd:

As highly intelligent and active dogs, German Shepherds need around 2 hours of exercise each day. Engage them in activities that challenge their mental and physical abilities, such as long walks, jogging, hiking, and obedience training. Playing games like Frisbee or hide and seek will also keep them mentally stimulated.

6. French Bulldog:

Frenchies are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a shortened snout, which alters their exercise needs. Aim for shorter, more frequent exercise sessions of approximately 30-45 minutes throughout the day. Gentle walks, interactive play indoors or in cooler weather, and mental stimulation through puzzle toys or training exercises are recommended.

7. Border Collie:

Border Collies are highly energetic and thrive in an environment that provides ample exercise and mental stimulation. They require at least 2 hours of exercise daily, including activities like long walks, jogging, hiking, playing fetch, and engaging them in mentally challenging tasks such as herding games or obedience training.

8. Yorkshire Terrier:

Yorkies may be small in size, but they still require daily exercise to prevent obesity and keep them mentally stimulated. Aim for around 30 minutes to an hour of exercise through daily walks, playtime at the park, or indoor games with toys. Remember to adjust the intensity and duration of exercise based on their age and health condition.

9. Boxer:

Being a powerful and high-energy breed, boxers need plenty of exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Aim for around 1-2 hours of exercise daily. Activities like running, jogging, playing fetch, agility training, and obedience classes are perfect for keeping these dogs active and happy.

10. Beagle:

Beagles are known for their love for exploration, making them ideal candidates for outdoor activities. They require at least 1 hour of exercise per day to fulfill their exercise needs. Regular walks, exploring safe outdoor spaces, tracking games, and participating in scent work or obedience training will help satisfy their active minds and bodies.

Remember, these exercise recommendations may vary based on an individual dog's age, health condition, and personality traits. Always consult with a professional veterinarian to ensure the exercise routine suits your dog's specific needs.

References

1. The Kennel Club. (n.d.). Get Active. Retrieved from https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/training/get-active/

2. PDSA. (n.d.). Exercise for Dogs. Retrieved from https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/all-pets/exercise-for-dogs

Further Reading (Dog Health)

Doctor Karen Becker

Doctor Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. She advocates for the benefits of exercise for dogs, stating that it can help with weight management, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce stress and anxiety. Doctor Becker also emphasises the importance of tailoring exercise routines to each dog's individual needs and abilities.

Doctor Marty Becker

Doctor Marty Becker is a veterinarian and author who has written extensively about pet health. He stresses the importance of regular exercise for dogs, citing benefits such as improved joint health, better digestion, and a stronger immune system. Doctor Becker also recommends incorporating mental stimulation into exercise routines, such as playing games like fetch or hide-and-seek.

Doctor Sophia Yin

Doctor Sophia Yin was a veterinarian and animal behaviourist who specialised in positive reinforcement training techniques. She believed that exercise was a crucial component of a dog's overall well-being, and recommended activities such as hiking, swimming, and agility training. Doctor. Yin also emphasised the importance of exercising your dog's mind, through activities like puzzle toys and training sessions.

References

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2. Anderson, W. P., Reid, C. M., & Jennings, G. L. (1992). "Pet ownership and risk factors for cardiovascular disease." The Medical Journal of Australia.

3. Friedmann, E., Katcher, A. H., Lynch, J. J., & Thomas, S. A. (1980). "Animal companions and one-year survival of patients after discharge from a coronary care unit." Public Health Reports.

4. Ham, S. A., & Epping, J. (2006). "Dog walking and physical activity in the United States." Preventing Chronic Disease.

5. Oka, K., & Shibata, A. (2009). "Dog ownership and health-related physical activity among Japanese adults." Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

6. Cutt, H., Giles-Corti, B., & Knuiman, M. (2008). "Encouraging physical activity through dog walking: Why don't some owners walk with their dog?" Preventive Medicine.

7. Christian, H., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E. A., Rhodes, R., Evenson, K., ... & Randomized Controlled Trials, R., 2013. "Dog ownership and physical activity: A review of the evidence." Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

8. Kushner, R. F., Blatner, D. J., Jewell, D. E., & Rudloff, K. (2006). "The PPET Study: People and Pets Exercising Together." Obesity.

9. Endenburg, N., & van Lith, H. A. (2011). "The influence of animals on the development of children." The Veterinary Journal.

10. Coleman, K. J., Rosenberg, D. E., Conway, T. L., Sallis, J. F., Saelens, B. E., Frank, L. D., & Cain, K. (2008). "Physical activity, weight status, and neighborhood characteristics of dog walkers." Preventive Medicine.

11. Brown, S. G., & Rhodes, R. E. (2006). "Relationships among dog ownership and leisure-time walking in Western Canadian adults." American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

12. Wood, L., Giles-Corti, B., & Bulsara, M. (2005). "The pet connection: Pets as a conduit for social capital?" Social Science & Medicine.

13. Levine, G. N., Allen, K., Braun, L. T., Christian, H. E., Friedmann, E., Taubert, K. A., ... & Lange, R. A. (2013). "Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association." Circulation.

14. McConnell, A. R., Brown, C. M., Shoda, T. M., Stayton, L. E., & Martin, C. E. (2011). "Friends with benefits: On the positive consequences of pet ownership." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.