5 Benefits of Outdoor Exercise with your Dog
As a former “Northeast Coaster” now living in Southern California, I am fortunate to live in a climate that is generally warm and sunny and perfect for outdoor exercise year round. For many others, weather conditions are such that getting outdoors to exercise year round is more challenging. No matter where you live, the summer months are a good time to take advantage of the longer, warmer days and to plan on exercising outdoors, in a natural setting, with your dog.
Outdoor Exercise with Dogs: Observations
One of the things that I have noticed is that when I am out in the parks and trails with my dogs, I tend to feel a heightened sense of well being (and overall joy) then when we are on the streets or sidewalks. The dogs, too, seem to have a similar experience when they are out on the trails and woods. They seem happier, more aware, and completely immersed in the experience. I notice this same phenomenon when I am exercising by myself or with my human friends. There is just something extra special about being outdoors amidst the natural environment that our Earth provides. I have some theories as to why this might be true, some of which are backed by scientific research and some have yet to be proven scientifically. In any case, here are my top reasons to exercise outdoors in nature, with your dog.
5 Reasons to Exercise Outdoors with your Dog
- Increased oxygen availability. Trees and plants use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Thus, when you are out in the woods or amidst vegetation, you are likely to have access to a higher concentration of oxygen then if you were indoors or in an urban area. More oxygen means a more energized and healthier body.
- Reduced intake of pollutants. Being close to nature and away from cars and other sources of emissions means that you and your dog are breathing better quality air.
- Softer surfaces mean less impact on the joints. No matter what kind of exercise you do with your dog, running, walking, strength or core drills, doing these outdoors on dirt or grass means that you are exercising on a much more forgiving surface then indoors or on a street or sidewalk. The result is less of an impact on your joints and, quite possibly, a lower chance of overuse injuries.
- Improved cognitive function and reduced stress and depression. There have been many studies supporting the notion that exercising in a forest or other natural setting can have direct benefits to a person’s memory, overall brain function, and even to their mood. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders by Berman, et al., suggests that simply walking in nature might be an effective treatment for major depressive disorders in humans. I have no doubt that dogs can also benefit from exercising in park like settings could be used to calm and distress dogs that might have underlying behavioral issues.
- Enhanced feeling of exercise induced euphoria. Putting all of these reasons together can translate to an enhanced feeling of exercise induced euphoria, or runner’s high. I know that I experience this feeling more intensely when on the trails and my observations suggest that my dogs do as well.
With all of these benefits, a smart strategy is to plan regular (if not frequent) exercise sessions in the nearest park, field, trail, or forest. Get outside, with your dog, and take advantage of what Mother Nature has provided.
Further Reading:Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!