It’s National Walk Your Dog Month

Are you ready to strut your stuff with your four-legged friends during National Walk Your Dog Month?

During cold months, it’s easy to stay indoors where it’s cozy and warm. But there are many benefits to bundling up and getting outside for a winter walk. Just 30 minutes a day of low-impact walking can help:

      • Work muscles, especially quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves
      • Strengthen joints
      • Reduce the risk of heart attack and disease
      • Combat anxiety and depression
      • Lower blood glucose levels when you walk after a meal

 

Many of these benefits extend to our pets, too. For example, during a walk, dogs also work their muscles, enjoy mental stimulation from the sights and sounds, and release excess energy, which helps them sleep better at night.

Here are tips for making the most out of your walks.

Choose the right gear

If the weather is cold, windy or snowy, be sure to dress appropriately. You’ll want to make sure areas most affected by the cold are covered. This includes:

      • Nose
      • Cheeks
      • Chin
      • Ears
      • Fingers
      • Toes

 

To stay warm, grab a hat, scarf, gloves or face shield. A water-resistant coat and boots can also help protect you from rain, slush and snow during walks. Depending on your dog’s breed, you may also want to bundle him up with a doggy jacket or booties.

There are some occasions when it may be a little too cold for your normal walk. Health experts advise you stay inside when the temperature dips below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees Celsius).[1] The same goes for dogs: Pet experts suggest you limit walks to 15 minutes when the temperature dips below freezing and watch your pet for signs of cold, like shivering.[2]

Give yourself (and your pet) enough time to walk

Now that you’re geared up, it’s important to set aside enough time for both you and your pet to enjoy the walk. Thirty minutes is often a good time to aim for, but you may want to shorten or extend this based on you and your dog’s needs.

Being out in nature has been linked to a variety of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress and better mood. Being out in nature is also beneficial for your pets, too. Humans have 5-6 million scent receptors in our noses, but dogs have up to 300 million. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times greater than a human’s! That’s why it’s so important for both you and your pet to allow plenty of time to “stop and smell the flowers” during your walk.

Set the pace and lead the way

To get your heart rate up, try for a brisk, but not strenuous pace. This pace differs from person to person, but generally ranges between 13-20 minutes per mile. A good rule of thumb is that you should be breathing harder than when you’re simply sitting or standing, but you should still be able to speak in full sentences and have a conversation.

Your dog should also be breathing a little harder, though not panting, during the walk. If he is by your side or just slightly behind you allowing you to lead, you’re walking at a comfortable pace.

Get ready to walk!

While January is often one of the coldest months, celebrating National Walk Your Dog Month is a great way to get your heart pumping and warm your spirits. Bundle up, get outside and enjoy the many benefits walking offers both you and your four-legged friend today.

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20045626,

      https://ketteringhealth.org/how-cold-is-too-cold-to-exercise-outside/

[2]https://www.stellaandchewys.com/dogs/when-is-it-too-cold-to-walk-your-dog/

Resources:

https://www.rover.com/blog/january-is-walk-your-dog-month/

https://www.americanhumane.org/

https://wagwalking.com/

https://www.vcahospitals.com

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/04/well/move/walking-after-eating-blood-sugar.html

https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/benefits-of-walking

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/staysafe/hypothermia.html

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature

 

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