The winter blues are sure to have hit many of us. You may feel more sluggish, a bit lethargic and less motivated.
If you’re keen to get back into an exercise routine, getting that extra push you need to get started may just be disguised as a bundle of fur. That’s right, your fur-friend could be your key to becoming more motivated to get back into healthy habits.
Owning a pet or pet sitting can offer so many health benefits. Animals are known to be great stress relievers, proven to reduce blood pressure and make us more socially resilient.
According to Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) having a pet in your life can improve cardiovascular health, with dogs in particular, acting as a stimulus for exercise.
Studies have also shown that exposure to pets can assist in the alleviation of depression, loneliness and low morale whilst dealing with the treatment of chronic illness.
If a feline friend shares your home, you may be interested to know that cat owners have been found to have better psychological health than non-pet owners.
And it’s not only dogs and cats that help us to de-stress, fish, birds, reptiles and small mammal owners also rated their choice of pet as significantly contributing to their overall relaxation.
Need more convincing? Whether you’re a pet owner or a pet sitter, here are our top tips about how your pet-pal can help you get into healthy habits.
Set Goals and Rewards
On your daily walks with your canine friend, set a vigorous pace to elevate your heart rate to get into exercise mode. Week on week, aim to walk, jog or run a little further and possibly a little faster. Your pet is sure to keep up and keep you to your pace. Slowly you will start to see your overall fitness improve. Dog ownership is the most common in Australian households. But for those of us who own a cat, rabbit, chickens or more, try using ‘cuddle time’ with your pet as your personal reward after a good stint of exercise.
Companions Are Key
We’re all more eager to exercise when we have company. So, strap on your runners and get the leash out for your favourite fur-friend to join you on your jog. They’ll love the company just as much as you will. Stop by a dog park on your way home and let your pet-pal get their energy out. You could even turn it into a game of races or catch and extend your exercise session while having fun too.
Remember Down Time
After all the activity and thrills, down time is important to help everyone moderate their behaviours at home. It’s time to stop and take deep breaths to relax. You may be surprised to know that this deep breathing can also benefit our dogs! Mediation with pets – or ‘petitation’! – is an activity that you can do with your pet. It may be difficult at the start because they are used to being active when they’re around you. But with a little persistence, your pet might find their calm place, almost mimicking your tranquil state.
If you’re after a great release, there are many animal programs that can connect you with a pet-pal. Horse riding can be a great stress reliever or regularly pet sitting and meeting new animal friends can be your way to get your pet-time.
If you would like to have more time with a fur-friend, but just can’t own one of your own, try house and pet sitting and improve your overall health and well-being with some friendly motivation.