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6 benefits of exercise for dogs

As published in Canadian Dogs Annual
6 benefits of exercise for dogs

Life can be hectic, and it’s easy to get so busy that we forget to take proper care of ourselves. One thing that often falls through the cracks is exercise, even though it’s the last thing we should be cutting out of our schedules – and our dogs’.

Regular physical exercise is crucial for maintaining health and preserving youth. Muscle mass maintenance, regular resistance training and cardiovascular conditioning with a brisk walk or light run support longevity and quality of life.

“Use it or lose it”

This cliché fits when it comes to muscle strength and tone. Challenging the body with physical work also prompts healthy hormone activity. Most of us know a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to fat accumulation; what’s less well known is that a lack of physical work allows the muscles and other lean tissues to degenerate. This degeneration along with increasing body fat produces a compounding negative impact on metabolism and general wellness. Still not convinced? Read on for six super reasons to keep you and your canine companion moving every day!

1. Exercise prevents premature aging.

As our animals age, their lean muscle mass diminishes. Similarly, if humans lose muscle, the risk of disease increases and the potential to recover declines. Regular exercise and good nutrition maintain lean muscle strength and integrity. If regular exercise isn’t part of your lifestyle, start immediately, even if it’s just one brisk 20-minute walk each day.

2. Exercise maintains strong bones.

Exercising skeletal muscle mass directly works the bone mass and helps maintain healthy bone density. The physical stimulation activates specialized cells that improve bone mass as a way to adapt to the work. Muscle mass is akin to an organ, and although it shouldn’t be used as a reservoir for immune-system fuels like glutamine, it’s the tissue the body falls back on during a health emergency.

3. Exercise helps with arthritis.

Contrary to conventional thinking, exercise is important even if you or your companion is contending with disease, arthritis included. The endorphin secretions induced by regular and controlled exercise actually help alleviate pain. The alternative is a sedentary lifestyle that contributes to further tissue degeneration. The only tissue that develops with a sedentary lifestyle is adipose tissue (loose connective tissue that stores fat), which actually increases the body’s inflammatory potential and worsens arthritis.

4. Exercise reverses obesity.

Obesity increases the risk for diabetes, bone disease, cancer, depression, dementia, chronic inflammation and more. Regular activity improves metabolism to the point where fat management becomes easier and obesity can be reversed. Exercise truly is the elixir of life.

5. Exercise improves insulin health and metabolism.

Physical activity helps jump start natural gene systems involved in regenerating and maintaining insulin health, helping to reverse insulin resistance and diabetes. It’s another one of those natural adaptation mechanisms where the body adapts to physical work by improving nutrient absorption by the cells. It consequently improves sugar transport for the energy required by working cells, and helps restore insulin health and correct the diabetic condition. Improvement of insulin resistance literally enhances biological age and general health as well as energy, stamina and strength.

6. Exercise pumps toxins out of the body.

The lymphatic system is designed to eliminate metabolic by-products and toxins, and it’s pumped by working muscles. Sedentary lifestyles allow this sludge to back up and choke the cells. Physically working muscles literally help pump toxicity out of the body, supporting health and vigor. This is one reason we feel invigorated and more mentally alert when we exercise regularly. The feet act like pumps to promote lymphatic circulation, and the working muscles take over throughout the body to continue the flow.

Physical activity reduces the risk for disease, improves biological age, prevents premature aging and enhances quality of life. No matter how busy you are, try to pencil in time to take regular brisk walks with your dog. Couple this new level of physical activity with a healthy diet and you and your canine friend will both benefit!

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