Are you having trouble sticking to your new year’s resolution of exercising more? Maybe you need a good physical trainer to help you meet your fitness goals: your best friend! Research shows that dogs are actually nature’s perfect personal trainers. Dogs are naturally loyal, hardworking, energetic and enthusiastic…basically the perfect work-out partner. And, unlike human workout partners who may skip an exercise session because of appointments, extra chores or bad weather, dogs never give you an excuse to skip exercising.

Many people don’t realize that taking your dog out for a walk at least two times a day can create significant benefits for both themselves and their four-footed friend. According to a number of recent studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Geriatrics Society and others:

  • Walking your dog at least twice a day provides you with an easy way to get the minimum 30 minutes of daily exercise that’s recommended by many health professionals.
  • Because most dogs love to walk, it’s likely that you will venture farther with your pet than you would if you simply went out walking alone. Research has shown that dog walkers typically walk twice as long as non-dog walkers do in an average week.

The benefits don’t stop there. Research has shown that dog owners who exercise with their dogs walk faster than those who don’t. Walking faster increases both your respiration and heart rate, which can help burn calories faster and allow you to maintain or lose weight. With a little help from your dog, your fitness goals may be easy to attain.

Walking with your pooch is also good for the heart. Individuals who walk their dogs on a regular basis tend to have lower blood pressure and lower levels of cholesterol. Both can go a long way toward preventing or combating heart disease.

Perhaps best of all, walking with your dog can be an excellent way for both of you to blow off a little steam and temporarily escape all the stresses of the day. It’s also a great way to get to know and talk with other dog walkers, which can help fend off the blues and reduce the likelihood of depression, especially in the winter months.

Walking is clearly good for the health of humans and dogs; it’s one of the best and easiest forms of physical activity. Your daily walk can even help benefit the homeless pets at Yavapai Humane Society. Join the volunteer Dog Walking team at YHS to take the dogs at the shelter out for a stroll. So, lace up, grab a leash, and go for a walk today with a four-legged friend!

Make sure while you’re on your stroll, your dog stays safe by your side. Animals who are not neutered have an instinctual drive to find a mate and can detect a dog in heat from even three miles away-making their desire to escape hard-wired. Reduce the “need to breed” instinct your pet has by spaying or neutering your dog (and cat!). Tuesday, February 23, was World Spay Day and Yavapai Humane Society is celebrating with discounted spay/neuter surgeries. Book your pet’s appointment at Yavapai Humane Society’s Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic (located at 2989 Centerpointe E Drive, Prescott) during February and receive 20 percent off the cost! Call 928-771-0547 for an appointment.

Originally published in The Daily Courier, February 24, 2016.