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May 15, 2015

Get some help during Walk to School Week…. from the dog!



iStock_000007424442_LargeWalk to School Week takes place from 18th to 25th May, championing the health benefits of walking. With 25% of children in the UK either overweight or obese, it’s clearly important.1 But there’s another group that could benefit even more says online pet retailer MedicAnimal, as around 45% of the nation’s dogs are overweight or obese.2 Including the family dog in Walk to School Week could be a great incentive for all the family to adopt a regular programme of walking.

According to new research being active may be more important than controlling weight gain and just 20 minutes brisk walking each day could be enough to make a difference.The average walk to a primary school is about 1.5 miles4, which should take just over 20 minutes – just enough to make an impact on health.

People that walk their dogs are 34% more likely to reach the recommended 20 minutes a day exercise target.5

It is estimated that eliminating human inactivity across Europe would reduce mortality rates by 7.5% – about twice as many as would be helped by eliminating obesity.An estimated two million dogs nationally don’t get enough exercise.7

Vet, Andrew Bucher is MedicAnimal’s founder and is backing the company’s Smiles4Pets campaign, “We are encouraging all dog owners to ‘think dog’ during Walk to School Week. Regular walking can help keep your dog both healthy and happy and is a fun way to exercise and make new friends.”

Research also suggests that people who walk more feel calmer, happier and more positive8 and those that walk with their dogs have reduced rates of depression, a lower body mass index and fewer chronic conditions.6

Dogs are not generally allowed within school grounds and MedicAnimal vets say that a few sensible precautions should be taken, including making sure dogs are wormed regularly against roundworm (Toxocara), always having a poo bag available to pick up after the pet, rewarding good behaviour and always supervising the pet at all times.

“Not only could you be doing your dog a big favour by including it in the walk to school, your dog could be doing you a favour too – helping you to keep to a regular walking routine,” says Andrew. “Just 20 minutes a day could make a big contribution to family health. Walk to School Week provides an ideal excuse to ring the changes.”

References

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/01January/Pages/Child-obesity-rates-are-stabilising.aspx
  2. http://www.pfma.org.uk/news/article.cfm?id=44
  3. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/01/14/ajcn.114.100065.full.pdf+html
  4. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/8932/nts2010-01.pdf
  5. http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2011/dog-walkers-more-likely-to-reach-exercise-benchmarks/
  6. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300658/Walkies-Fat-chance-One-dog-owners-lazy-pets-day.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
  7. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Multiple-health-benefits-of-regular-walks/articleshow/44980148.cms