Meet Brecca, she is a 4 month old Australia Kelpie, and I think she’s absolutely gorgeous! We got her from the RSPCA in March and already she has taken over our home.
Something I’ve noticed since getting a little pup is what a “social catalyst” walking has become. What do I mean by that? Well, now when I walk in my local area, people stop to talk to me, or more accurately, admire Brecca, ask what age she is, or can their children stroke her, and generally pass pleasantries about the weather etc.
This is something which I didn’t expect, and I can see how simply keeping a pet could help to promote a sense of well being as a result of the companionship, and also the increased social interaction that it provides.
Scientific researchers have investigated the belief that owning a pet can help people live longer and feel healthier. Dr. Bernhard Pukay, veterinarian in Ontario says:
“Veterinary medicine is as much about human health as it is about animal health care. As veterinarians, we see the positive health benefits of pet ownership every day.”
A study by McNicholas et al (2005) state that, research dating from the 1980s, popularised the idea that owning a pet could have positive benefits on human health. These health benefits ranged from higher survival rates from myocardial infarction; a significantly lower use of GP services; reduced risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis in children exposed to pet allergens during the first year of life; reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; and better physical and psychological wellbeing in community dwelling older people.
“Animal Assisted Therapy” (AAT) is becoming more popular, and has experience brilliant results. Apparently in Canada, volunteers from the community bring animals to visit nursing, retirement homes and hospitals. The presence of animals in these institutional settings have caused some patients to become more alert, to be more sociable and even to smile more. Apparently patients who were usually withdrawn, enjoyed talking to, and also walking the pets. What a great program!
I think it would be difficult to argue against the fact that having a pet encourages us to exercise more, they certainly make excellent exercise partners. In addition to this, the fact that pets enhance social interaction with other people, provides an indirect effect on well being, and may also help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
Getting a dog a has definitely increased my own physical activity, however it ought not to be entered into lightly. Brecca has been taking up a considerable amount of my time for walking and playing; not to mention the extra cleaning up. I also lost quite a bit of computer “down-time” this week as she tried to chew my computer led on two occasions, thankfully my husband was able to fix the problem! All of that said, I wouldn’t change her one bit, and she has made an excellent addition to our family.
Walking is good for you
Walking is a brilliant way to exercise, whether you have or haven’t got a dog. Aim for at least 30 minutes at a time, on five occasions each week, for noticeable health benefits. It is important to note, if you haven’t been active recently, you should build up gradually to this level of activity, and contact your GP if you have any concerns.