Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand; one supports and affects the other. When you feel depressed, you’re more susceptible to getting the flu. And when you have an illness like heart disease, you’re more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. One of the best ways to keep both your mind and your body healthy and strong is to exercise. Exercise should be one of the main foundations on which you place your health.
Now here’s a fun way to boost your mental and physical health, while getting exercise: do some dog-walking. Yes—that’s right. All you have to do is get outside twice a day and go for a walk. Researchers at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, in Washington, DC just conducted a trial in which they looked at three different groups of people: dog owners who walk their dogs; dog owners who don’t walk their dogs; and adults who don’t own a dog.
All the participants were assessed for risk factors, including: physical activity, overweight status, tobacco use, nutrition behaviors, chronic conditions, depression symptoms, and social support.
They found, of course, that those who didn’t own their own dog or walk their dog got less exercise than those who owned a dog and actually took it out for walks. The researchers also found that none of the dog-walking participants were the unlucky recipients of the following significant health risks:
• Greater odds of self-reported diabetes
• Greater odds of hypertension
• Greater odds of hypercholesterolemia
• Greater odds of depression
Another clinical trial completed at Miami University looked at the well-being benefits of pets. They found that pets could help stave off negative health effects—specifically, those ones caused by social rejection—a great solution for those of you who feel isolated at home.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Study Shows Health Improved by Having One of These
Lentino, C., et al., “Dog walking is associated with a favorable risk profile independent of moderate to high volume of physical activity,” J Phys Act Health March 2012; 9(3): 414–20. Epub May 5, 2011.
McConnell, et al., “Friends with benefits: on the positive consequences of pet ownership,” J Pers Soc Psychol. December 2011; 101(6): 1239–52.