Getting out of a warm, cosy bed on dark, frosty mornings to take the dog out is probably the last thing you feel like doing. But take encouragement from the fact that it really is good for you.
Quite apart from a blast of fresh air to wake you up, going walkies gives you both the chance to get some exercise. Getting up and about is a great way to keep your dog happy and healthy, but vitally important for you, especially if you’re going to spend the rest of the day slumped at your desk.
Your daily dog walk may not feel as strenuous as sweating buckets at the gym, but rest assured it’s doing just as much good. According to pet health care experts Bob Martin, dog walkers actually get far more exercise than people who consider themselves regular gym goers – an average of five hours and 38 minutes per week, compared with just one hour and 20 minutes per week for the Lycra lovers.
Feeling smug? You should be, as even the fact that you’re getting out every day can have huge health benefits. Scientists believe that doing up to an hour of moderate activity most days combined with a healthy diet could cut mortality rates by 50 per cent.
The benefits of owning a dog go beyond a mere leg-stretch. Medical researchers have found that dog owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, for example, and are generally healthier than those without a canine companion.
There’s the social aspect of meeting other dog owners while out and about, and the structure of having a daily routine; both factors which could go a long way to raising mood and stirring you from inertia. In fact, researchers at the University of Portsmouth found that daily dog walking could even ward off depression. Are there any sights in life happier than a dog proudly carrying a stick? You can’t write a prescription for that.
Cat owners can take heart from the news that researchers have claimed all manner of health benefits from caring for a feline friend – in fact a study by the University of Minnesota found that cat owners have a much lower heart attack risk.
It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that curling up with a cat on the couch at the end of a stressful day can have psychological benefits, either. According to a study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation in conjunction with Cat’s Protection, it’s all down to the relaxing vibrations in a cat’s purr.
Even having a tank of goldfish in the corner of a room is thought to be relaxing, and while lizards and snakes aren’t everyone’s choice of perfect pet, they’re an interesting addition to the household. Having a pet is good for kids, too – it can help them develop a sense of empathy and responsibility, as well as boosting their self-esteem, say psychologists. Owning a dog can also help children become more active, guarding against obesity.
Care for your pet, and it will care for you; and remember, whether you’re curling up on the couch with a cat or pursuing a poodle across the common, your furry friend should be covered by suitable cat or dog insurance.
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance
Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.