For many of us the thought of walking our dog is seen as just another chore as part of being a responsible dog owner. Yes, this is true but it is easy to forget that walking every day is not only for your doggy’s benefit. There are several benefits for us humans too.
Why then is it that over 60% of Australian adults are still failing to do the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day? (The Australia Health Survey 2011-2012). In fact, both men and women spend over two months of each year on sedentary activities!
So if you still need more convincing to get more active with your doggy, here are 10 human benefits of walking every day!
1. A healthier heart
Regular walking has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. It lowers levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and keeps blood pressure in check. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in Australia, with 43,946 deaths attributed to CVD in Australia in 2012. Cardiovascular disease kills one Australian every 12 minutes (Heart Foundation, 2014)
2. It lowers the risk of disease
As well as heart disease, a walking habit can slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, asthma and some cancers. A study in the British Medical Journal showed taking more steps every day can help ward off diabetes. And according to the charity Walking For Health, regular exercise such as walking could reduce risk by up to 60 per cent. Those of us who are active have around a 20 per cent lower risk of developing cancer of the colon, breast and womb than those least active.
3. It keeps us at a healthy weight
If you’re trying to lose a bit of weight a walk of 30 minutes or more a day can make a big difference with little effort! If you start walking every day you will accustom your body to that level of physical activity and naturally may work yourself up to a daily jog. You’ve got to start somewhere!
4. It can help prevent dementia
Each week, there are more than 1,700 new cases of dementia in Australia; approx. one person every 6 minutes (Fight Dementia, 2014) According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, physical exercise reduces your risk of developing dementia by 50 per cent and also works to slow down the deterioration in those already affected (Help Guide, 2014).
5. and osteoporosis
Walking counts as a weight-bearing activity, it stimulates and strengthens bones, increasing their density – which is very important! It also helps maintain healthy joints so may ward off conditions such as arthritis.
6. Toned legs and bum!
A consistent routine of walking can help strengthen and shape your legs, giving great definition to calves, quads, hamstrings and lifting your glutes (buttock muscles) – especially if you add hills.
7. It gives you a chance to think.
When we walk, we think. And because walking is a low-difficulty endeavour, we can direct our executive functioning to more internal matters. We work through problems, come up with ideas, replay conversations, scheme, ruminate, and discover solutions. Or maybe we just think about that funny cat video we saw on YouTube. That’s a worthy subject, too.
8. It boosts your vitamin D levels
If you’re walking outside in daylight, you’ll be boosting your body’s stores of vitamin D – a nutrient that’s hard to get from food, but that we can synthesise from exposure to sunlight. It plays a big role in everything from bone health to immunity. Just make sure you slip, slop, slap.
9. It gives you energy
A brisk walk is one of the best natural energizers. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to each and every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive!
10. It reduces stress and makes you happy!
It is an increasing trend to find Australians reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety each year (Australian Psychological Society, 2013). Like any other cardiovascular exercise, brisk walking boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression (Science Daily, 2013). Studies have shown regular, moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) to be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression.
So start walking today with your pooch by your side and don’t forget to share the experience with us #100happydoggydays!