February 21, 2019 by John Fernandez
Walking Your Dog: You Both Get the Health Benefits (Video)
Walking your four-footed best friend provides both of you with more health benefits than you may realize.
Updated March 23, 2017
(Video: Jennifer Young, M.D., a primary care physician with Baptist Health Medical Group, and Dee Hoult, certified professional dog trainer, explain how walking your dog can help both you and your pet meet optimum fitness goals. Ms. Hoult also demonstrates helpful “leash training” techniques to improve your dog’s behavior. Video by Dylan Kyle)
Just as with people, lack of regular exercise can lead to obesity and related health issues in dogs. Skipping the walks can also contribute to canine behavior problems. National Walk Your Dog Week is a great time for dog owners to make regular walks part of their routine.
“A dog that spends too much time indoors, just like us, can get a little stir crazy,” says certified professional dog trainer Dee Hoult. “People don’t realize dogs need a lot more mental enrichment than they do physical, and walks provide that.”
“Walking is one of the most accessible ways of doing exercise,” according to Jennifer Young, M.D., a primary care physician with Baptist Health Medical Group. “The American Heart Association has put forth some guidelines for us to be able to achieve what they consider to be the optimum amount of exercise. They recommend that all of us get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. And owning a dog and walking a dog can easily help you achieve that goal.”
Walk This Way
What if taking Fido out on a leash is a more of a chore than a pleasure?
“Leash training is definitely one of the hardest things that I see dog owners struggle with. The biggest complaint is that their dog pulls really hard against the leash,” says Hoult. But don’t fret; there are shortcuts. “You can quickly get out there if you have the right equipment and immediately today start enjoying walks with your dog.”
The trainer recommends two humane pull management devices: a front-clip harness for moderate pullers and a head halter for strong pullers. (See her demonstrate both tools.)
Prescription For Health
Walking can lower your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease and improve emotional health as well.
“I’d call this a prescription for health,” says Dr. Young, “Because it’s just a wonderful thing to be able to go outside with your dog, walk and move your body, achieve the goals that the American Heart Association has put forth of 150 minutes a week — but without really realizing that you’re exercising.”
Watch Now: The Baptist Health South Florida News Team shows you how you can reap the health benefits of walking your dog.