Our furry friends bring a lot of joy and fun into our lives, and research even shows they can increase our life span and decrease our risk of cardiovascular disease by providing companionship and increasing our exercise.
The Victorian Government health guidelines suggest that owning a dog is linked to improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones (built up by walking regularly), and decreased stress. We’re not trying to convince you to go out and buy a pet, because that’s a big decision with a lot of responsibility. But for those who already have a loved animal at home, we’d encourage you to get active with your pet more often and enjoy the quality time together.
Don’t forget that regular walking is really important for your dog’s health too. Obesity in pets is associated with a number of medical complaints including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and insulin resistance. Plus owners who don’t ensure their pets get enough exercise may find they have a disobedient, bored and too-energetic animal on their hands!
All healthy dogs can benefit from walking each day, and dogs can be a great motivator to get you outside even on days when the weather is less than perfect. Make sure you have good equipment like a secure lead, and play with things such as balls and sticks to make a visit to the park more fun for both of you. If your dog is an energetic and healthy dog, they could make a fantastic companion to a run, bike ride, beach swim or hike too. Your options aren’t limited to walks around your local neighbourhood.
A quick Google search will tell you if there are any dog parks nearby, visiting one of these can be a great opportunity for you and your pup to socialise. If you don’t have a pet yourself, offer to walk your friend’s or neighbour’s dog. They’ll thank you for making their busy life a bit easier, their dog will thank you for new adventures, and your body will thank you for getting active!
If you want to take it a step further than volunteering to walk a friend’s dog, but you aren’t ready for the full commitment of a pet, you can look into fostering as an option. Organisations such as RSPCA, Lost Dogs Home, and Pet Rescue run foster programs, where you can opt to look after a pet in need short-term or long-term.
Not a dog person? Don’t worry, lots of cats love playing with toys. Spend some time every day playing with your cat, it will get you moving around too and your cat will love the entertainment and bonding time. If you have a more unusual furry friend like a rabbit or ferret, think up some creative ways you can both play together.
Getting active with your pet will be great for both of you, plus your pet will love you even more for it!
YMCA is a proud partner of Premier’s Active April, because we believe that encouraging Victorians to get more active every day is important for everyone’s health, pets included! It’s free to sign up and there are lots of offers and prizes, including a 10 Visit Pass Card to use at your local YMCA Centre.