The health benefits of having a dog

The health benefits of having a dog
Highlights

Each day brings a new stress in your life. The time we spend either escaping stress or dealing with it takes a toll on our lives. When thinking of ways to reduce stress and strain in life, usually physical activities or techniques like meditation, yoga, brisk walking or jogging comes to our mind. 

Each day brings a new stress in your life. The time we spend either escaping stress or dealing with it takes a toll on our lives. When thinking of ways to reduce stress and strain in life, usually physical activities or techniques like meditation, yoga, brisk walking or jogging comes to our mind.

But do they always help and motivate us enough to ensure that we have regular fitness regime? Maybe, what we want is an emotional support from a beloved friend. Let’s see how our ‘furry friends’- dogs- aid in fighting diseases by increasing the physical activity.

Scientists at The University of Western Australia (UWA) have identified that the decrease in physical activity that occurs when a person loses a dog is significantly greater than the increase that occurs when they get a dog.

“During the research, it was found that people who obtained a dog walked approximately 31 minutes more each week than they had in the past. Dog owners who lost their dog decreased their walking by as much as 44 minutes per week,” quoted Dr Christian from UWA.

The UWA research was presented at an international conference in Sweden in July. We have to accept the fact that we are becoming a population crippled by laziness. Indians by large are not very conscious about fitness and crave for simpler options. For instance, we prefer an elevator instead of stairs, driving instead of walking- basically, showing thumbs down to any form of exercise to keep us fit.

“I used to think I was pretty active but, in reality, weeks would go past without doing any walking. There was always a reason – OK, an excuse – for why I couldn’t go for a walk. Too hot one day, too cold the next. I was too busy, too tired or I’d convince myself I needed a time out.

None of those reasons cut it with Candy, our Labrador, who really needs a daily walk. Just the way she looks at me if I head to the couch is enough of a reason to change my mind and put on my walking shoes,” says Monica Arora, owner of a Labrador.

Here are some fitness tips for all the pet lovers. Go with your dog for a brisk walk or run as much as possible and if your dog is fit enough. You at least get a full body resistance workout (arms, shoulders, and core and leg muscles) in the context of a cardiovascular exercise. Similarly, if your dog is a swimmer and you have beach/body of water access, your human-canine workout can expand considerably.

It’s best to look for options to walk the safer side. Practically, the solution is not that difficult. A friend is all you need to not only keep you happy, protected and loved but healthy too. Dogs can provide excellent social support, stress relief and other health benefits - perhaps more than human beings!

For those who love animals, it’s almost impossible to stay in a bad mood. It is estimated that there is a 30 per cent reduction in the risk of having a heart attack in households, which have a dog.

(Dr KG Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, Mars India)

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