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Get Fit, Get a Dog

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 18 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Dog Pet Animal Canine Dogs Puppy Walk

Getting some children interested in exercise and getting fit can be tedious, especially if they're not particularly sporty and you haven't found activities that are a real hit with them. But one way of subtly introducing regular exercise, but without it feeling too much like hard work or exercise, is to get a dog.

Many children hanker after a dog anyway, so if you've ever been faced with wondering if it's a good idea, have you thought about the health and fitness angle? Having a dog means someone has to take it for a walk at least once a day and walking is a fantastic way of getting gentle exercise.

What's more, there are other active elements of having a dog and there are all sorts of ways in which it can positively impact on children. For example, children can run around with a dog, which improves their running skills, and playing simple games, such as ball, with their dog aids their throwing ability. As an added bonus, having a pet to look after gives children an extra responsibility and lots of useful skills for later in life.

Of course, like any pet, having a dog involves a lot of time, care and commitment. A dog is not something you should take on if you can't devote time and attention to it and definitely not just so you can give your child another form of exercise. But if you'd like to add another dimension to their life, give them the chance to gain responsibility and learn to care for an animal, then a dog may be a good choice.

The Benefits of Dog Walking

As a fitness activity, walking the dog is ideal for children. Depending on their age and where they'll be walking the dog, you may need to accompany them on walks to ensure they're safe and are able to handle the dog properly. Walking is low-impact and one of the safest forms of aerobic exercise for children. It can help them improve their overall physical fitness, boost their cardiovascular system and it's unlikely they'll suffer any strains or injuries.

Some of the other benefits of walking for children include:

  • It helps them firm and tone muscles.
  • It helps burn stored fat, which in turns helps reduce weight.
  • It helps them develop strong bone growth.
  • It helps them acquire good posture.
  • It helps reduce the risk of heart disease later in life.
  • It often increases confidence and self-esteem.
But it's not just children that benefit from the added fitness - parents do too! If you have to accompany your child on walks, you'll gain the benefit of exercise too and just having a dog around often adds more activity into your life, as there's lots to do.

With younger children, you could use walking the dog as a way of encouraging them to walk to school or to the shops, rather than taking the car. You can go with them and, when you've reached the school gates, return home with the dog.

Dogs make lovely pets, so if you're considering new ways of helping all the family get fit, why not give it a try?

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