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    Vet shares six ways walking with your dog can boost your mental health — and it's great for their wellbeing too!

    By Kathryn Williams,

    29 days ago

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=1744m9_0t4eJlR500

    Let's be honest, sometimes life can feel really challenging. Many of us spend our days wearing many different hats — partner, parent (to both humans and pets!), sibling, colleague, friend — the list goes on! With so many roles to play and so much to get done, it's little wonder our mental health can take a hit.

    And then there's our canine companions. While most of us are doing our best to provide them with everything they need, such as the best dog treats and toys, sometimes it's easy to forget that they have mental health needs too.

    The good news is that boosting our own mental health and that of our dogs, doesn't need to involve us investing a lot of money into expensive products. Something as simple as a daily walk with our pup can work wonders.

    Pooch & Mutt's resident vet, Dr. Linda Simon says that getting out and about for at least 45-minutes a day with your canine companion can keep you both feeling like your best selves. Here's how...

    1. Keeping fit

    Walking is such a wonderful way to keep fit, but according to Dr. Simon, it's not all about weight loss.

    "People often associate keeping fit with losing weight — which can be an encouraging element, but there’s so much more to keeping fit than just that!," she explains.

    So, what exactly are the benefits that walking with our dog can offer us? Well, Dr. Simon says there's plenty, and here are a few of her favorites:

    • Helps you both to sleep soundly, so that the magic seven hours (for you) is attainable. Dogs will need much more than that depending on their age and breed
    • Keeps blood pressure and cholesterol low, for a healthy heart and longer life expectancy
    • Keeps you both in shape, which boosts confidence and self-esteem to help reduce feelings of depression (depression is a thing for dogs too)
    • Keeps your minds sharp! The impact being fit has on your body helps focus your brain - so any challenges that come your way may feel easier to deal with

    Being fit and healthy can help you and your pooch achieve these things — and so much more! And if you'd like to take things even further, here's 32 ways to build self-care into your dog walk .

    2. Boosting endorphins through play

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2siGJY_0t4eJlR500

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    "We can learn a lot from our pooches. Especially with how much good play and fun times can take the pressure off those everyday stresses!," says Dr. Simons.

    Learning how to play with a dog can help you let loose and put your worries aside, plus according to Dr. Simons, it's also great for releasing endorphins — the brain chemical that boosts our mood and helps us to relax.

    And that's not all, playtime with our pups has a ton of other perks too, as Dr Simons points out:

    • "Strengthens your bond!
    • Helps correct/support any behavioral issues your dog may suffer from
    • Gives you both a much-needed energy release from boredom or that Groundhog Day feeling
    • Helps you learn some new tricks together, which can feel very rewarding
    • Builds their confidence, which can help relieve pressure and uncertainty for you both
    • Reminds you you’re never too old to be silly — life’s too short!"

    So what are you waiting for? Why not grab a few of the best dog toys and spend some time having a fun play session with your pup when you're next out and about.

    3. Getting fresh air

    Getting outside and filling your lungs with fresh air is a great way to give you and your dog a much-needed mental health boost.

    Fresh air is scientifically proven to be good for our health and Dr. Simon says that "feeling the wind in your hair or fur comes with endless benefits, including:

    • Cleaning your lungs and improving your breathing
    • Strengthening your immune system, so you’re fighting fit against any nasties that come your way
    • Improving blood pressure and heart rate, reducing the risk of serious health issues
    • Aiding your digestive system to help keep everything functioning as it should
    • Increasing energy levels and keeping your mind feeling sharp
    • Giving you time and space to think, make decisions and remove yourself from stressors."

    4. The chance to meet other pawrents

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0KFAsq_0t4eJlR500

    (Image credit: Getty Images)

    Alright my fellow introverts, you might not be quite so keen on this one but bear with me because Dr. Simon says that the opportunity that walking presents for social interaction can do wonders for the mental health of both ourselves and our dogs.

    "You might be feeling lonely and craving interaction, or maybe you’re feeling super sociable and just want to meet new people and pooches! Whichever one it is, getting out and about is the perfect opportunity to get chatting, and make new friends in the process," she explains.

    "Having people to talk to can bring fun, fulfilment and motivation to your life — which we all need. And if your pooch makes a new fur bestie in the process then win-win! We know that dogs are (usually) sociable beings and stimulating those senses with a new buddy will do them the world of good."

    Still not keen on all this social interaction stuff? I hear you. But the good news is that if you have one of the best dogs for introverts meeting other dog owners doesn't have to daunting. Social interaction could be something as simple as smiling and saying hello — or letting your dog play with their new fur friends while you sit on a bench and read a good book!

    5. Creating a routine

    "Although spontaneity can give us those short-term thrills — we all need some sort of routine to keep us feeling focused and in control when life feels hectic," says Dr. Simon.

    "Dogs especially love routine, and having a daily walk to look forward to helps provide structure, giving them the comfort they need to live a meaningful life. Don’t underestimate the power that a good routine can have on your mental health.

    Set specific times each day to aim to get out. It’ll give you something to look forward to, and set up the rest of your day nicely around it."

    6. The opportunity to try something new

    Stepping outside our comfort zone can feel scary sometimes, but walking can be a great way to add some variety into our daily routine in a way that feels gentle and doable.

    "If there’s only so much ‘routine’ you can cope with, then seize the opportunity to try something new with it," Dr. Simon advises. "Go on your daily walk for all of the above reasons — but add a cheeky twist to it.

    Try a fresh route and take in the new sights, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and go climbing, jump in the car and walk somewhere a little further from home - do whatever makes you feel good while you’re out exploring! You might end up discovering a new hobby while you’re at it.

    Your dog will absolutely embrace this, as they’ll adore the new smells and scents they pick up. Did you know that 15 minutes of pooch sniffing is the equivalent of 30 minutes physical exercise?"

    Don't believe us? ' I tried a 45-minute 'sniffari', and it tired out my border collie more than a two-hour hike! ' is a great piece to check out if you're looking for one dog owners experience of letting their dog sniff more.

    So it doesn’t necessarily have to take more time — just trying something new will offer a huge amount of benefits for you both!"

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3Vy6aY_0t4eJlR500

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