Due to the current COVID-19 situation, social distancing and self-isolation measures have been implemented across the globe. With more people confined in their homes, there is less opportunity for people to lead active lifestyles. This is particularly concerning given that physical inactivity is directly linked to the development of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes: two of Australia’s biggest killers. Depending on where you live, your choices for how to be active may have been reduced dramatically, with the lockdowns seeing closures to gyms, public pools, and national parks. One option that does remain for leaving the house, however, is to walk the dog.
The benefits of dog ownership for activity levels of their owners have long been recognised. Studies done in Japan, the UK and America have shown that dog owners have higher levels of physical function and physical activity as compared to non-dog owners. Studies have also shown that having certain pets like dogs and horses leads to a stronger association with outdoor recreational activities as compared to non-pet owners. By attending to their needs, pets also help you to sit less and move more while you are in the house as well.
Regardless of their size, shape or species, pet companionship can encourage more play and quality time together, which benefits both the wellbeing and health of both the owner and the pet. Pet ownership can also be an effective way to reduce stress and improve the quality of life, with pets acting as a source of support during stressful situations and helping to decrease feelings of loneliness.
If you already have a pet, you know the rewards and enrichment they can bring to your life. If you don’t yet have a pet, this period of lockdown may be an opportunity for you to explore the possibility. However, pet ownership is a big responsibility – to paraphrase, pets are for life, not just a pandemic. Make sure that you are willing to commit beyond the lockdown phase.
How has your pet helped you to sit less and move more? We would love to hear from you, either in the comments or send us an email at [email protected]
This blog was written by Jade Lim as part of her placement with the BeUpstanding team for fulfilment of her Bachelor of Psychology degree.