While not all pets are as “talented” as the one pictured in this video, it is clear that pets (especially dogs) help us to keep fit. It is difficult to find a more willing, available and awesome exercise partner than my fabulous dog, Max. He’s definitely getting a little grey about the muzzle and long in the tooth. But all I have to do is say the word “walk” and he nearly loses his little doggy mind with excitement. In fact, we use the phrase, “start the countdown” in our household to indicate the microscopic amount of time between saying the word “walk” and Max going crazy. So it’s pretty typical for my husband and I to ask each other questions like, “Got the leash? Got your keys? Are we ready to start the countdown?” We’ve learned to do this because it’s pretty hard to put on a coat and seek earnestly for your keys when you have a critter pulling on the leash and generally causing absolute mayhem in his urgency to get OUTSIDE.
Maybe we could all learn something from Max. Wouldn’t it be great if we all felt that level of excitement over exercise? Even when we’re older and our hips don’t work so well, regardless of the weather and what else is on our schedule, wouldn’t it be great to feel that worked up about working out? All I can say is, I’m working on it.
There is a lot of evidence out there that pets are a great way to relieve stress in our lives. That’s not to say they are stress-free. As anyone who has ever blotted desperately at Grandma’s hand tied-wool rug or stared despondently at the back of their once pristine leather sofa knows, pets can certainly be the cause of stress as well. But there is more and more research linking pet ownership to lower incidence of heart disease, better stress management, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. One study indicates that people who owned cats were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack.
So my little chicklettes, here’s my prescription for stress relief: spend some time with some four legged critters. If you already own them, spend a little more time loving on them. And if you can’t own a pet, why not spend a little time volunteering at your local animal shelter? There are lots and lots of wonderful dogs waiting for walkies. And you get a 3-fer the price of one: exercise, stress relief and making the world a better place, all in one go!