“Owning a dog is so good for mind, body and soul,” said Christina Page, a local writer and health care marketing manager. “Toby, my 3-year-old beagle mix, deserves the exercise, so he encourages me to exercise. He bounds up the stairs with such enthusiasm that it's impossible not to follow up with equal pep in my step.”
To get the most cardio benefit, you need to walk fast enough to get your heart rate up. The America Heart Association indicates that “brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer at least five days a week.”
Dog owners take walks more frequently, walk for longer periods, walk at a quicker rate and are more likely to enjoy an active lifestyle because of their canine companion. Page agrees. “Toby walks much faster than I do, so I have to pick up the pace to keep up.”
The survey revealed that one-quarter of people with children and pets regularly make trips to parks and other outdoor areas because of their dog. Oscar Escobedo and his wife, Cathy take Lexi, their 8-year-old boxer-lab mix along on family camping trips, hikes and outings to dog beach. “She loves to have space to play catch with a tennis ball, fetch the Frisbee or just run around,” said Oscar.
Pets can also provide the social support so crucial to sticking with an exercise program and ultimately improve your overall well being.
“Toby has strengthened my ties with friends who have dogs, because of our shared interest,” added Page. “Being a dog owner has forged conversations with new people at the dog park. Even though I don't know any of their names, I do know the names of their dogs and that's enough.”
Learn more about keeping your heart healthy by visiting www.americanheart.org.
Claire Yezbak Fadden took her dogs, Bandit and Jersey Girl, for a walk right after she finished this article.