The Lassie Effect: Your Dog Can Help You Stay in Shape

April 30, 2019
In this article, we're going to tell you about a wonderful, recent discovery by researchers in Australia: the Lassie effect, and how your dog can help you stay healthy. Keep reading!

There are more and more people choosing to go out and exercise with their dogs. In fact, a recent study has shown that people who go on walks with their dogs are generally more active and in better shape. Keep reading to learn about what they’re calling the Lassie effect!

The Lassie effect: your dog can help you stay in shape

A dog sitting in the lap of its owner.

Dog owners who take their dogs on walks every day (or at least a few times a week) are more active and feel more self-confident. Those are the results of the study from the University of Western Australia, led by Dr. Hayley Christian.

There’s a pretty obvious link between walking your dog and physical exercise. But the experts say that if you truly want to benefit from it, you should take your dog out for 30 minutes a day. Researchers call it the “Lassie effect”. It is when walking your dog helps you reach the 150 minutes of weekly activity recommended by the World Health Organization.

In many cases, the people who walk their dogs the most are solitary or live alone. Morning or nighttime walks give them a chance to get out of the house. They are distracted from their problems, and even meet new people. Very few people say that they walk their dog for the sake of exercising. However, that’s one of its main benefits!

On the other hand, there are people who don’t walk their dogs much. That could be because they have kids (who do it for them), or their dogs are obese, old, or ill in some way. However, we really need to take a more proactive attitude towards our pet’s health.

There’s also another interesting side to the Lassie effect. People who go out and exercise with their dogs also feel safer when they’re outside, especially women. With their loyal dogs there to protect them, they can run, listen to music, etc, without being afraid.

How to exercise with your dog

But don’t stop reading now that you’ve seen the benefits of walking your dog or exercising with it. There are still some things to keep in mind if you want to make this part of your routine.

For example, you need to think about what kind of dog you have, or what breed it is. Some can’t run and jump well, and others can’t exercise without health problems. These problems are usually related to bones and the respiratory system.

The time of year also factors in here. If it’s summer, or you live in a hot area, it’s best to go out in the morning or around dusk. Doing that is good for you both. In the case of your dog, you’re preventing its paws from getting burned on the asphalt or getting dehydrated.

Giving your dog obstacles and other challenges can be as fun for it as it can be for you. You can make a course with various obstacles in your backyard, or at a park. While your dog is jumping, crawling under tables, or walking in a zig-zag, you can follow along and run by its side to get your own exercise.

If you have a puppy or a dog under two years old, you can train it to exercise alongside you without a leash. For example, if you go out running or on a bike ride, it will be able to run along with you. Don’t push it too hard at the beginning, though. You should try to go at the same pace.

A dog lying down on a half unrolled yoga mat.

Other activities with your dog

There are some great games that are basically sports for your dog, and will be lots of fun for you both! For example, there’s the classic of throwing a ball or stick in a park. Your dog will get some exercise, and you’ll get a chance to spend some time in the fresh air and teach it to obey basic commands.

If neither you nor your dog are able to do physical exercise, you should still try to take it on walks if you can. Do a loop around your park, or even just around your block. If you make this into a habit, your dog will learn that it’s time to go out once you finish breakfast or get home from work. The best part is that you’ll get to see it wait in excitement!

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